Evaluating the clinical and physiological effects of long term ultraviolet B radiation on guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus)

Megan K. Watson, Adam W. Stern, Amber L. Labelle, Stephen Joslyn, Timothy M. Fan, Katie Leister, Micah Kohles, Kemba Marshall, Mark A. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vitamin D is an important hormone in vertebrates. Most animals acquire this hormone through their diet, secondary to exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, or a combination thereof. The objectives for this research were to evaluate the clinical and physiologic effects of artificial UVB light supplementation on guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) and to evaluate the long-term safety of artificial UVB light supplementation over the course of six months. Twelve juvenile acromelanic Hartley guinea pigs were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: Group A was exposed to 12 hours of artificial UVB radiation daily and Group B received only ambient fluorescent light for 12 hours daily. Animals in both groups were offered the same diet and housed under the same conditions. Blood samples were collected every three weeks to measure blood chemistry values, parathyroid hormone, ionized calcium, and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OHD3) levels. Serial ophthalmologic examinations, computed tomography scans, and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans were performed during the course of the study. At the end of the study the animals were euthanized and necropsied. Mean ± SD serum 25-OHD3 concentrations differed significantly in the guinea pigs (p<0.0001) between the UVB supplementation group (101.49±21.81 nmol/L) and the control group (36.33±24.42 nmol/L). An increased corneal thickness in both eyes was also found in the UVB supplementation compared to the control group (right eye [OD]: p<0.0001; left eye [OS]: p<0.0001). There were no apparent negative clinical or pathologic side effects noted between the groups. This study found that exposing guinea pigs to UVB radiation long term significantly increased their circulating serum 25-OHD3 levels, and that this increase was sustainable over time. Providing guinea pigs exposure to UVB may be an important husbandry consideration that is not currently recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere114413
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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