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Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2001 Oct;34(2):125-36.

Evaluation of residual and therapeutic doses of tetracycline in the human-flora-associated (HFA) mice model.

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Laboratoire d'études et de Recherches sur les Médicaments Vétérinaires et les Désinfectants, Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments, BP 90203, 35302 Fougères cedex, France.


In order to evaluate an in vivo model system for assessing the effect of therapeutic and residue levels of tetracycline on human intestinal microflora, tetracycline was administered via drinking water (1, 10, and 100 mg/liter) to human-flora-associated (HFA) male and female mice. The effects of the antibiotic on fecal aerobic and anaerobic populations, selection of bacteria resistant to tetracycline, metabolic parameters of the microflora, and maintenance of the intestinal barrier against exogenous Salmonella (resistance to colonization) were recorded. In both sexes of mice, tetracycline exposure at 10 and 100 mg/liter induced the selection of several resistant bacterial species (Gram-positive anaerobes, Bacteroides fragilis, enterobacteria, and enterococci). This effect was also observed at the lowest dose (1 mg/liter) in female mice and indicates the potential sensitivity of this endpoint for evaluating the microbiological risk of tetracycline residues. The resistance to colonization was impaired at 100 mg/liter, a concentration corresponding to about half of the therapeutic doses in humans and animals. Metabolic parameters of the microflora were not affected by tetracycline at all levels. In this study, the no-observed-effect level (NOEL) of tetracycline on intestinal flora in this study was less than 1 mg of tetracycline per liter of drinking water. This concentration in the mouse corresponds to 0.125 mg of tetracycline per kilogram of body weight per day. Within the constraints of the experimental design employed here, the HFA mice model proved to be acceptable for studying dose-related effects of tetracycline on human intestinal microflora.

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