Moisture-seeking behavior may correlate with degree of radiation-induced xerostomia in mice


Biomedical Sciences

Document Type


Conference Title

American Broncho-Esophagological Association Annual Meeting


American Broncho-Esophagological Association


Chicago, IL

Conference Dates

May 18-19, 2016

Date of Presentation



Objective: To describe a behavioral assessment tool for the evaluation of radiation-induced xerostomia in mice.

Method: In the animal laboratory, xerostomia is currently assessed with the volume measurement of whole mouth saliva after pilocarpine stimulation in irradiated mice. We propose to evaluate xerostomia via lick counting in irradiated mice, based on the premise that dry mouth symptoms will trigger behavior to seek oral cavity moisture and correlate with the frequency of licks from the water bottle. This non-invasive tool may improve assessment of symptomatic xerostomia in rodents, and allow for monitoring of xerostomia symptoms over 24 hours. The Columbus Instruments DM-8 Drinking Monitor generates a single count pulse every time a rodent licks a conductive drinking dispenser spout. Fluid licking in rodents is highly stereotyped and lickometers provide accurate estimates of drinking behavior and fluid intake. Others have demonstrated increased frequency of water intake while feeding dry food in normal mice.

Results: Two mice underwent lick counting for a fixed time period before and after irradiation with 15 Gy to the head and neck via local opposed lateral fields. Prior to radiation, the average lick count was 138 per hour over 24 hours. This increased to 308 licks per hour after radiation.

Conclusion: Our novel approach promises to ease the study of xerostomia in rodents. Our preliminary results show significant increase in lick count following radiation. Our animal model can be expanded in the future for high throughput screening of potential radio-protective agents for salivary glands.

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