Modelling gut-brain interactions in gnotobiotic mouse models
Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying gut-brain interactions has become one of the central topics in the neuroscience field. In fact, recent studies suggest that neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases might stem from alteration of the very delicate equilibrium of microbial flora that through, partially understood mechanisms, might lead to disease onset of Parkinson/Alzheimer, just to name a few.
To elucidate those mechanisms, several research groups started to use models especially mice that are deprived of their own microbiome through various techniques (irradiation, antibiotic treatment) and considered gnotobiotic mice. Their microbiome is in turn replaced with patients-derived microbiome to study, among others, behavioral alterations as well as changes in physiology and molecular pathways.
In fact, a very recent study indicate that microbiome derived from Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients and implanted in gnotobiotic mice. With the use of an established Home Cage Monitoring System, researchers from Nijmegen University could identify an altered anxiety-like behavior resembling what reported in ADHD patients. Additionally, striking changes at neurocircuitry function with imaging studies were identified.
The use of home cage monitoring together with cages that allow complete isolation of the animals from external microbes, at the cage level, increases dramatically the throughput of such behavioral studies that generally require high animal numbers for a statistically and biologically relevant output/endpoint.
Additionally, reduction in cage change based on objective cage dirtiness (moisture) might to reduce the exposure of those sensitive animals to the external environment.
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