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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 3;11(11):e0165843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165843. eCollection 2016.

A 90-Day Feeding Study in Rats to Assess the Safety of Genetically Engineered Pork.

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Institute of Animal Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100193, P. R. China.
State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, P. R. China.


Our laboratory recently produced genetically engineered (GE) Meishan pigs containing a ZFN-edited myostatin loss-of-function mutant. These GE pigs develop and grow as normal as wild type pigs but produce pork with greater lean yield and lower fat mass. To assess any potential subchronic toxicity risks of this GE pork, a 90-day feeding study was conducted in Sprague-Dawley rats. Rats were randomly divided into five groups, and fed for 90 days with basic diet and basic diets formulated with low dose and high dose pork prepared from wild type pigs and GE pigs, respectively. Animal behaviors and clinical signs were monitored twice daily, and body weight and food consumption were measured and recorded weekly. At days 45 and 90, blood tests (lipid panel, electrolytes, parameters related to liver and kidney functions, and complete blood counts) were performed. Additionally, gross pathology and histopathological analyses were performed for major organs in each group. Data analysis shows that there were no significant differences in growth rate, food consumption, and blood test parameters between rat groups fed with GE pork and wild type pork. Although differences in some liver function parameters (such as aspartate aminotransferase, total proteins, albumin, and alkaline phosphatase) and white blood cell counts (such as lymphocyte percentage and monocyte percentage) were observed between rats fed with high dose GE pork and basic diet, all test results in rats fed with GE pork are in the normal range. Additionally, there are no apparent lesions noted in all organs isolated from rats in all five feeding groups on days 45 and 90. Overall, our results clearly indicate that food consumption of GE pork produced by ZFN-edited myostatin loss-of-function mutant pigs did not have any long-term adverse effects on the health status in rats.

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