The laboratory mouse is the most common used mammalian research model in biomedical research. Usually these animals are maintained in germ-free, gnotobiotic, or specific-pathogen-free facilities. In these facilities, skilled staff takes care of the animals and scientists usually don’t pay much attention about the formulation and quality of diets the animals receive during normal breeding and keeping. However, mice have specific nutritional requirements that must be met to guarantee their potential to grow, reproduce and to respond to pathogens or diverse environmental stress situations evoked by handling and experimental interventions. Nowadays, mouse diets for research purposes are commercially manufactured in an industrial process, in which the safety of food products is addressed through the analysis and control of all biological and chemical materials used for the different diet formulations. Similar to human food, mouse diets must be prepared under good sanitary conditions and truthfully labeled to provide information of all ingredients. This is mandatory to guarantee reproducibility of animal studies. In this review, we summarize some information on mice research diets and general aspects of mouse nutrition including nutrient requirements of mice, leading manufacturers of diets, origin of nutrient compounds, and processing of feedstuffs for mice including dietary coloring, autoclaving and irradiation. Furthermore, we provide some critical views on the potential pitfalls that might result from faulty comparisons of grain-based diets with purified diets in the research data production resulting from confounding nutritional factors.
Overconsumption of high-fat and cholesterol-containing diets is detrimental for metabolism and mitochondrial function, causes inflammatory responses and impairs insulin action in peripheral tissues. Dietary fatty acids can enter the brain to mediate the nutritional status, but also to influence neuronal homeostasis. Yet, it is unclear whether cholesterol-containing high-fat diets (HFDs) with different combinations of fatty acids exert metabolic stress and impact mitochondrial function in the brain. To investigate whether cholesterol in combination with different fatty acids impacts neuronal metabolism and mitochondrial function, C57BL/6J mice received different cholesterol-containing diets with either high concentrations of long-chain saturated fatty acids or soybean oil-derived poly-unsaturated fatty acids. In addition, CLU183 neurons were stimulated with combinations of palmitate, linoleic acid and cholesterol to assess their effects on metabolic stress, mitochondrial function and insulin action. The dietary interventions resulted in a molecular signature of metabolic stress in the hypothalamus with decreased expression of occludin and subunits of mitochondrial electron chain complexes, elevated protein carbonylation, as well as c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation. Palmitate caused mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) resistance, while cholesterol and linoleic acid did not cause functional alterations. Finally, we defined insulin receptor as a novel negative regulator of metabolically stress-induced JNK activation.
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