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Open Access Variation in the Gut Microbiota of Laboratory Mice Is Related to Both Genetic and Environmental Factors

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During recent years, the composition of the gut microbiota (GM) has received increasing attention as a factor in the development of experimental inflammatory disease in animal models. Because increased variation in the GM might lead to increased variation in disease parameters, determining and reducing GM variation between laboratory animals may provide more consistent models. Both genetic and environmental aspects influence the composition of the GM and may vary between laboratory animal breeding centers and within an individual breeding center. This study investigated the variation in cecal microbiota in 8-wk-old NMRI and C57BL/6 mice by using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis to profile PCR-derived amplicons from bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Comparison of the cecal microbiotas revealed that the similarity index of the inbred C57BL/6Sca strain was 10% higher than that of the outbred Sca:NMRI stock. Comparing C57BL/6 mice from 2 vendors revealed significant differences in the microbial profile, whereas the profiles of C57BL/6Sca mice raised in separate rooms within the same breeding center were not significantly different. Furthermore, housing in individually ventilated cages did not lead to intercage variation. These results show that denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis is a simple tool that can be used to characterize the gut microbiota of mice. Including such characterizations in future quality-control programs may increase the reproducibility of mouse studies.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark 2: Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC), Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 3: Centre for Applied Laboratory Animal Research, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology. akh@life.ku.dk

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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