Tips for Mouse-Massage Parlor Personnel

An international team of mouse-massaging immunopharmacology researchers shares some of its secrets for massaging mice with a paintbrush or with gloved human hands, in this study:


Massage-like stroking boosts the immune system in mice,” Benjamin Major, Lorenza Rattazzi, Samuel Brod, Ivan Pilipović, Gordana Leposavić, and Fulvio D’Acquisto, Scientific Reports, vol. 5, 2015. The authors, at Queen Mary University of London, UK, the Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Sera ‘Torlak’, Belgrade, Serbia, and the University of Belgrade, Serbia, explain some of their massage technique:

beegloves“Brush and hand stroked mice were stroked at a pressure of 100-150 mmH2O (or 7-11 mmHg) and at a speed of about 3 cm/sec according to a previously described protocol, whereas control mice were not touched (by hand or brush) throughout the 60-minute treatment. Brush stroking was applied using a No.5 da Vinci paintbrush while hand stroking was applied using three fingers of the preferred hand of the investigator as previously described. For the hand-stroked treatment, the experimenter wore Bizzybee disposable vinyl gloves (Amazon, UK). These odourless gloves reduced human smell but maintained human contact i.e. warmth and pressure. Mice were stroked on the hairy skin found on the posterior dorsal thoracic and proximal hind limb in a cephalocaudal fashion (head to tail).”

Here’s further detail from the paper:


(Thanks to Bart Knols for bringing this to our attention.)

2 Responses to “Tips for Mouse-Massage Parlor Personnel”

  1. Fulvio D'Acquisto Says:

    Thank you Marc for posting our research.

    I will be of course more than happy to provide more info to those who might be interested.

    I am mostly keen on linking our study on some clinical trials performed on abandoned toddlers born from HIV infected mother and hence HIV+ themselves. In these children, the count of CD4+ T cells (those killed by HIV) goes up after soft touching massage-like stroking (see study by Shor-Posner, G. et al. Impact of a massage therapy clinical trial on immune status in young Dominican children infected with HIV-1. J Altern Complement Med 12, 511–516, 10.1089/acm.2006.12.511 (2006)).

    From an evolutionary point of view, soft touch – especially from parents- is a way for the body to feel safe and protected. Indeed, this has also been confirmed in a recent study in Nature by Vrontou et al. (Vrontou, S., Wong, A. M., Rau, K. K., Koerber, H. R. & Anderson, D. J. Genetic identification of C fibres that detect massage-like stroking of hairy skin in vivo. Nature 493, 669–673, 10.1038/nature11810 (2013)), that has identified unmyelinated C type sensory neurons that detect massage-like stroking on hairy skin in mice. These neurons, named MRGPRB4+, exclusively innervate hairy skin and have been shown to be closely related to the C-LTMRs found in humans. Most strikingly, these fibres terminate in the substantia dorsal horn of the spinal cord with neurons that give projections to the insular cortex, an area of the brain concerned with wellbeing and emotion, but also shown to play a crucial role in the central autonomic network.

    I hope these info will spark even more interest on the study!

  2. Catharine Says:

    Well duh, as anyone who has ever had a dog, cat, hamster, guinea pig or similar furry animal for a pet knows. This may apply to birds but I have never had one for a pet since I am allergic to feathers. Gentle stroking from neck to tail are obviously pleasurable if they stay there for more. Or purr in the case of cats.

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