Continuous and non-invasive thermography of mouse skin accurately describes core body temperature patterns, but not absolute core temperature.
van der Vinne V., Pothecary CA., Wilcox SL., McKillop LE., Benson LA., Kolpakova J., Tam SKE., Krone LB., Fisk AS., Wilson TS., Yamagata T., Cantley J., Vyazovskiy VV., Peirson SN.
Body temperature is an important physiological parameter in many studies of laboratory mice. Continuous assessment of body temperature has traditionally required surgical implantation of a telemeter, but this invasive procedure adversely impacts animal welfare. Near-infrared thermography provides a non-invasive alternative by continuously measuring the highest temperature on the outside of the body (Tskin), but the reliability of these recordings as a proxy for continuous core body temperature (Tcore) measurements has not been assessed. Here, Tcore (30 s resolution) and Tskin (1 s resolution) were continuously measured for three days in mice exposed to ad libitum and restricted feeding conditions. We subsequently developed an algorithm that optimised the reliability of a Tskin-derived estimate of Tcore. This identified the average of the maximum Tskin per minute over a 30-min interval as the optimal way to estimate Tcore. Subsequent validation analyses did however demonstrate that this Tskin-derived proxy did not provide a reliable estimate of the absolute Tcore due to the high between-animal variability in the relationship between Tskin and Tcore. Conversely, validation showed that Tskin-derived estimates of Tcore reliably describe temporal patterns in physiologically-relevant Tcore changes and provide an excellent measure to perform within-animal comparisons of relative changes in Tcore.