Bacteria living in the intestines of laboratory rats - those test tubes on four feet that stand in for humans in a wide range of research - may influence the results of drug safety and other tests, scientists in Michigan are reporting.
Cynthia M. Rohde and colleagues note growing recognition of the hidden role of the approximately 100 trillion bacteria that thrive in the intestines of humans.
Studies have shown that this so-called "gut microflora" can influence the immune system, how the body responds to foods, the action of drugs, and other functions. Researchers started the new study after noting that a genetically identical population of rats widely used in laboratory tests had developed two distinctively different metabolic types.
The types involve differences in the way those animals metabolize, or breakdown, drugs and nutrients.
After detailed studies of substances in the urine of the rats, researchers concluded that the differences result from differences in the gut microbial populations between the two types.
The report recommends that scientists in the future check lab rat populations for such metabolic differences due to gut microflora in order to assure accurate results, especially in experiments to evaluate the safety of new drugs.
The research article, entitled "Metabonomic Evaluation of Schaedler Altered Microflora Rats" is scheduled for the Dec. 7 issue of ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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