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Comparative analysis of growth characteristics of Sprague Dawley rats obtained from different sources


Genetic background in animal models is an intrinsic research variable in biomedical research. Although inbred strains offer genetic uniformity, the outbred stocks, known for genetic variability are often used to develop animal models of human disease. The genetic variability is considered to be even higher when outbred stocks are obtained from different sources. In order to examine the degree of variability of an outbred stock obtained from various sources, Sprague Dawley (SD) rat lines obtained from two sources were evaluated for their growth characteristics. The SD rats from Charles River laboratories (CRL) and Harlan Laboratories (HAR) were monitored for weight gain from the age of 6 weeks to 24 weeks. Food intake was monitored between 13 and 24 weeks. Body composition, organ weights, tibial lengths and blood parameters were measured. There was no difference observed in food intake per 100 gram body weight at most of the time points. CRL rats showed higher body fat mass (49.6%), higher gross liver weights (22.2%), lower testicular weights (30.8%) and lower cholesterol levels (25.4%) than HAR rats. Phenotypic differences may be attributed to genetic heterogeneity of the SD outbred stock between the two sources and represent a significant research variable impacting studies especially related to metabolic diseases. Therefore, in order the minimize research variables for those studies where genetic diversity is not a basis for experimental design, the use of single source genetically uniform inbred animal models is highly recommended over the use of outbred stocks.


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Correspondence to Vijay Koya.

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Brower, M., Grace, M., Kotz, C.M. et al. Comparative analysis of growth characteristics of Sprague Dawley rats obtained from different sources. Lab Anim Res 31, 166–173 (2015).

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