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Lab Anim Sci. 1998 Feb;48(1):85-91.

Comparison of four diagnostic methods for detection of Helicobacter species in laboratory mice.

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The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609-1500, USA.


Four species of Helicobacter--H. muridarum, "H. rappini," H. hepaticus, and H. bilis--have been identified in the gastrointestinal tract of rodents. The association of Helicobacter species with chronic gastrointestinal diseases in mice has raised concern about their impact on research results. In this study, different methods for detection of Helicobacter species in the mouse intestinal tract were compared: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 16S rRNA gene sequences, bacterial culture, electron microscopy, and histologic examination (Steiner stain). The PCR method was more sensitive in detecting murine Helicobacter species than was culture, electron microscopy, or histologic examination. Of the cecal specimens identified as Helicobacter species-positive by PCR, approximately 60% were identified as positive by each of the other methods. An 87.5% concordance was obtained by PCR screening of DNA from fecal and cecal specimens. Differentiation among murine Helicobacter species by colony morphologic or histologic features was not possible. Scanning electron microscopy and histologic examination indicated greater numbers of helical microorganisms, specifically H. hepaticus, in the cecum than in the colon. These results indicate that the PCR assays used can be performed on feces as a noninvasive means for rapidly screening large numbers of colony mice for murine Helicobacter species.

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