Evaluation of Helicobacter hepaticus bacterial shedding in fostered and sex-segregated C57BL/6 mice

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Neonatal fostering has been evaluated as a means of eliminating Helicobacter hepaticus infection in laboratory mouse colonies. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate cross-fostering of neonatal C57BL/6 pups from experimentally infected dams after male-absent parturition and to determine the effects of sex and housing strategy on H. hepaticus populations. Approximately 20 C57BL/6 mice (age, 1 to 4 days) were fostered daily. In all fostered mice, fecal samples collected at 21 and 42 days of age and cecal samples collected at 42 days of age tested negative for H. hepaticus by polymerase chain reaction analysis. Our results demonstrate that removal of the male prior to parturition extends the fostering period to yield Helicobacter-free mice. In a second experiment, the effects of time of infection, housing strategy, and sex on fecal H. hepaticus shedding and cecal colonization were evaluated. Neither time nor housing strategy affected bacterial shedding. In contrast, fecal and cecal bacterial loads were higher in male mice versus female mice. A novel predictive algorithm was developed to predict cecal bacterial colonization levels in light of fecal bacterial loads. Our findings likely will prove useful in Helicobacter eradication efforts and in studies designed to further elucidate the role of H. hepaticus in disease.

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Comparative medicine

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