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Division – 3Rs

Group leader: Dr. K. E. Auer

The 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) research group lays emphasis on improving the breeding, keeping and animal testing conditions of laboratory mice, and promotes the development and usage of alternatives to animal experiments. We envision combining animal welfare with excellent research.

Our projects focus on enhancing the wellbeing of laboratory animals (refinement) and on developing alternative procedures to substitute the usage of animals in experiments (replacement). We apply highly interdisciplinary approaches  and take  innovative steps in conducting our research.

Currently, we test principles of behavioral ecology to improve sperm quality and to raise embryo transfer rates in mice. In taking this approach we can potentially enhance the breeding success of sub-fertile mouse strains, and on a bigger scale, improve mouse husbandry overall.

We further aim to establish a non-invasive method to assess testosterone levels in mice. Conventional methods rely on blood sampling, which can be problematic for small rodents. We provide an alternative that does not require blood sampling.

To drive forward new advances in the application of 3Rs principles, we also engage in the development of in vitro models (cell culture, 3D models, and organoids). In using organoids we investigate inflammatory reactions in the intestine and pancreas to better understand the causes of inflammation and to potentially prevent them from occurring. Organoids contain the same cell types as found in real organs, thereby allowing us to observe and test immune responses in a complex setting without using animal models.



1.Auer KE, Kußmaul M, Möstl E, Hohlbaum K, Rülicke T, Palme R. Measurement of Fecal Testosterone Metabolites in Mice: Replacement of Invasive Techniques. Animals (Basel). 2020 Jan 18;10(1):165. doi: 10.3390/ani10010165

2.Hoesl C, Zanuttigh E, Fröhlich T, Philippou-Massier J, Krebs S, Blum H, Dahlhoff M. The secretome of skin cancer cells activates the mTOR/MYC pathway in healthy keratinocytes and induces tumorigenic properties. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2020 Aug;1867(8):118717. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2020.118717

3.Dahlhoff M, Gaborit N, Bultmann S, Leonhardt H, Yarden Y, Schneider MR. CRISPR-assisted receptor deletion reveals distinct roles for ERBB2 and ERBB3 in skin keratinocytes. FEBS J. 2017 Oct;284(19):3339-3349. doi: 10.1111/febs.14196

4.Dahlhoff M, Fröhlich T, Arnold GJ, Zouboulis CC, Schneider MR. LC-MS/MS analysis reveals a broad functional spectrum of proteins in the secretome of sebocytes. Exp Dermatol. 2016 Jan;25(1):66-7. doi: 10.1111/exd.12867

5.Stumpf F, Algül H, Thoeringer CK, Schmid RM, Wolf E, Schneider MR, Dahlhoff M. Metamizol Relieves Pain Without Interfering With Cerulein-Induced Acute Pancreatitis in Mice. Pancreas. 2016 Apr;45(4):572-8. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000483

6.Dahlhoff M, Camera E, Ludovici M, Picardo M, Müller U, Leonhardt H, Zouboulis CC, Schneider MR. EGFR/ERBB receptors differentially modulate sebaceous lipogenesis. FEBS Lett. 2015 Apr 15. pii: S0014-5793(15)00240-9.

7.Dahlhoff M, Fröhlich T, Arnold GJ, Müller U, Leonhardt H, Zouboulis CC, Schneider MR. Characterization of the sebocyte lipid droplet proteome reveals novel potential regulators of sebaceous lipogenesis. Exp Cell Res. 2015 Mar 1;332(1):146-55.

8.Dahlhoff M, Camera E, Picardo M, Zouboulis CC, Schneider MR. Angiopoietin-like 4, a protein strongly induced during sebocyte differentiation, regulates sebaceous lipogenesis but is dispensable for sebaceous gland function in vivo. J Dermatol Sci. 2014 Aug;75(2):148-50.