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ALTEX. 2015;32(2):143-7. doi: 10.14573/altex.1410031. Epub 2015 Jan 16.

Ethical euthanasia and short-term anesthesia of the chick embryo.

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Molecular OncoSurgery, Section Surgical Research, Department of General and Transplantation Surgery, University of Heidelberg and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.


Fertilized chicken eggs are suggested as an alternative to mammalian models. The chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of the chick embryo is widely used for examination of angiogenesis, xenotransplants and for virus production. Unfortunately, it is mostly not taken into account, that the chick embryo's ability to experience pain starts to develop at day 7 of breeding. In our view, this model is only in accordance with the 3 R principles, if an appropriate anesthesia of the chick embryo in potentially painful procedures is provided. Although many experimental approaches are performed on the none-innervated CAM, the euthanasia of the embryo strongly requires a more human technique than the usually used freezing at -20°C, decapitation or in ovo fixation with paraformaldehyde without prior anesthesia. However, protocols regarding feasible and ethical methods for anesthesia and euthanasia of avian embryos are currently not available. Therefore, we established an easy and reliable method for the euthanasia and short-term anesthesia of the chick embryo.


animal alternative model; chick embryo anesthesia; chick embryo euthanasia

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