Submitted By: Dr. Martin Toft, Taconic Biosciences:
It seems it just got easier to do microbiome studies in rodents – at least short term experiments. In the September issue of Laboratory animals, Hecht el al (Link 1) reported the successful germ-free housing of mice in individually ventilated cages (IVC) for up to 3 weeks. The system used is the Isocage from Tecniplast (Link 2), which is a high level biocontainment/bioexclusion version of the traditional IVC-technology. Based on the results, the housing methodology proved capable of providing axenic conditions while placed in the rack, but the handling of cages and animals obviously is a much more sensitive process when performed in a hood. Nevertheless, proper aseptic cage-changing procedures can be performed and the findings prove that alternatives to isolator housing are available when performing short-term studies requiring germ-free conditions.
Significant additional benefits include increased flexibility and decreased cost. It also means that facilities without isolator capabilities can now consider microbiome experimentation in rodents as germ-free animals! Resources to support this effort can be obtained from external sources; see Link 3.