A refined blood collection method for quantifying corticosterone

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


In many rodent laboratories, blood samples are collected from rats using the tail vein nick procedure and analyzed to quantify blood corticosterone levels as an indicator of stress. The standard method of corticosterone quantification often requires the collection of a relatively large volume of blood, followed by the extraction of the blood plasma. An alternative blood sampling method requires the collection of only a drop of blood on paper (the 'drop' method), minimizing handling of the animals, and does not require plasma extraction. The authors aimed to validate the drop method of blood sampling for use in corticosterone quantification. They induced stress in rats by cerebral ischemia, collected blood samples at various intervals using both the drop method and the plasma extraction method and then quantified corticosterone by radioimmunoassay. Corticosterone levels of the ischemic rats were compared with those of sham-operated rats and those of ischemic rats that had been given metyrapone, a glucocorticoid synthesis inhibitor, prior to vessel occlusion. Blood corticosterone levels in the samples obtained from the same animal using the two different methods were highly correlated for all rats. The authors further provide a regression model that can be used to predict plasma corticosterone values from those obtained from the drop blood samples. Quantification of corticosterone from only a small drop of blood has many practical and ethical advantages and should be considered as an alternative to standard methods.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Lab Animal