Nutritional profile of rodent diets impacts experimental reproducibility in microbiome preclinical research

C. J. Tuck, G. De Palma, K. Takami, B. Brant, A. Caminero, D. E. Reed, J. G. Muir, P. R. Gibson, A. Winterborn, E. F. Verdu, P. Bercik, S. Vanner

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The lack of reproducibility of animal experimental results between laboratories, particularly in studies investigating the microbiota, has raised concern among the scientific community. Factors such as environment, stress and sex have been identified as contributors, whereas dietary composition has received less attention. This study firstly evaluated the use of commercially available rodent diets across research institutions, with 28 different diets reported by 45 survey respondents. Secondly, highly variable ingredient, FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols) and gluten content was found between different commercially available rodent diets. Finally, 40 mice were randomized to four groups, each receiving a different commercially available rodent diet, and the dietary impact on cecal microbiota, short- and branched-chain fatty acid profiles was evaluated. The gut microbiota composition differed significantly between diets and sexes, with significantly different clusters in β-diversity. Total BCFA were highest (p = 0.01) and SCFA were lowest (p = 0.03) in mice fed a diet lower in FODMAPs and gluten. These results suggest that nutritional composition of commercially available rodent diets impact gut microbiota profiles and fermentation patterns, with major implications for the reproducibility of results across laboratories. However, further studies are required to elucidate the specific dietary factors driving these changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17784
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020

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