Assessment of the Intestinal Barrier with Five Different Permeability Tests in Healthy C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ Mice

Abstract

Intestinal permeability is thought to be of major relevance for digestive and nutrition-related diseases, and therefore has been studied in numerous mouse models of disease. However, it is unclear which tools are the preferable ones, and how normal values should be defined. To compare different in vivo permeability tests in healthy mice of commonly used genetic backgrounds. We assessed the intestinal barrier in male and female C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ mice of different ages, using four orally administered permeability markers, FITC-dextran 4000 (FITC-D4000) and ovalbumin (OVA) measured in plasma, and polyethylene glycol (PEG) and lactulose/mannitol (Lac/Man) measured in urine, and by assessing lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in portal vein plasma. After gavage, FITC-D4000, OVA, Lac/Man, and PEG400, but not PEG4000, were detectable in plasma or urine. Female mice tended to have a higher permeability according to the FITC-D4000, OVA, and PEG400 tests, but the Lac/Man ratio was higher in males. No significant differences between the two mouse strains of young and old mice were observed except for mannitol recovery, which was higher in BALB/cJ mice compared to C57BL/6J mice (p < 0.05). Virtually no LPS was detected in healthy mice. For all markers, normal values have been defined based on 5th–95th percentile ranges of our data. Selected oral permeability tests, such as FITC-D4000, OVA, PEG400, and Lac/Man, as well as LPS measurements in portal vein plasma, could be suitable for the evaluation of the intestinal barrier in mice, if used in a standardized way.

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