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Open Access Effects of Soy in Laboratory Rodent Diets on the Basal, Affective, and Cognitive Behavior of C57BL/6 Mice

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Soy is one of the most common sources of protein in many commercial formulas for laboratory rodent diets. Soy contains isoflavones, which are estrogenic. Therefore, soy-containing animal diets might influence estrogen-regulated systems, including basal behavioral domains, as well as affective behavior and cognition. Furthermore, the isoflavone content of soy varies, potentially unpredictably confounding behavioral results. Therefore researchers are increasingly considering completely avoiding dietary soy to circumvent this problem. Several animal studies have investigated the effects of soy free diets but produced inconsistent results. In addition, most of these previous studies were performed in outbred rat or mouse strains. In the current study, we assessed whether a soy-free diet altered locomotion, exploration, nesting, anxiety-related behaviors, learning, and memory in C57BL/6 mice, the most common inbred strain used in biomedical research. The parameters evaluated address measures of basic health, natural behavior, and affective state that also are landmarks for animal welfare. We found minor differences between feeding groups but no indications of altered welfare. We therefore suggest that a soy-free diet can be used as a standard diet to prevent undesirable side effects of isoflavones and to further optimize diet standardization, quality assurance, and ultimately increase the reproducibility of experiments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Research Group Animal Models in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany;, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Safety and Quality of Fruit and Vegetables, Max Rubner Institut, Karlsruhe, Germany 3: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Research Group Animal Models in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany 4: Interfaculty Biomedical Research Facility, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany

Publication date: September 1, 2019

This article was made available online on August 29, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Effects of Soy in Laboratory Rodent Diets on the Basal, Affective, and Cognitive Behavior of C57BL/6 Mice".

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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