Potential of in vivo stress reporter models to reduce animal use and provide mechanistic insights in toxicity studies

Francisco Inesta-Vaquera, Febe Ferro, Michael McMahon, Colin J. Henderson, C. Roland Wolf (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Downloads (Pure)


Chemical risk assessment ensures protection from the toxic effects of drugs and manmade chemicals. To comply with regulatory guidance, studies in complex organisms are required, as well as mechanistic studies to establish the relevance of any toxicities observed to man. Although in vitro toxicity models are improving, in vivo studies remain central to this process. Such studies are invariably time-consuming and often involve large numbers of animals. New regulatory frameworks recommend the implementation of “smart” in vivo approaches to toxicity testing that can effectively assess safety for humans and comply with societal expectations for reduction in animal use. A major obstacle in reducing the animals required is the time-consuming and complexity of the pathological endpoints used as markers of toxicity. Such endpoints are prone to inter-animal variability, subjectivity and require harmonisation between testing sites. As a consequence, large numbers of animals per experimental group are required. To address this issue, we propose the implementation of sophisticated stress response reporter mice that we have developed. These reporter models provide early biomarkers of toxic potential in a highly reproducible manner at single-cell resolution, which can also be measured non-invasively and have been extensively validated in academic research as early biomarkers of stress responses for a wide range of chemicals at human-relevant exposures. In this report, we describe a new and previously generated models in our lab, provide the methodology required for their use and discuss how they have been used to inform on toxic risk. We propose our in vivo approach is more informative (refinement) and reduces the animal use (reduction) compared to traditional toxicity testing. These models could be incorporated into tiered toxicity testing and used in combination with in vitro assays to generate quantitative adverse outcome pathways and inform on toxic potential.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1164
Number of pages10
JournalF1000 Research
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2022


  • Risk assessment
  • alternative in vivo methods
  • chemical toxicity
  • early biomarkers
  • in vivo toxicology
  • mechanistic toxicology
  • oxidative stress
  • DNA damage


Dive into the research topics of 'Potential of in vivo stress reporter models to reduce animal use and provide mechanistic insights in toxicity studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this