Ex-germfree mice harboring intestinal microbiota derived from other animal species as an experimental model for ecology and metabolism of intestinal bacteria

Exp Anim. 1999 Oct;48(4):219-27. doi: 10.1538/expanim.48.219.


Ex-germfree (GF) animals harboring intestinal microbiota derived from other animal species, e.g. human-flora-associated (HFA) and pig-flora-associated (PFA) mice, have been considered as a tool for studying the ecology and metabolism of intestinal bacteria of man and animals. Human fecal microbiota was transferred into the intestines of the mice with minor modification by inoculating GF mice with human fecal suspensions. Interestingly, bifidobacteria were eliminated from some of the HFA mouse groups, whereas other dominant bacterial groups remained constant. Elimination of bifidobacteria appeared to be dependent on the composition of microbiota in the inoculated sample. Human fecal microbiota established in the intestines of the HFA mice reproduced in the intestine of offspring of these HFA mice and of cage-mated ex-GF mice without any remarkable change in composition. Although the HFA mice could be used for studying the effects of diet on human intestinal microbiota, the metabolism of microbiota of HFA mice reflected that of human feces with respect to some metabolic activities but not others. PFA mice were also a good model for studying the ecosystem of pig fecal microbiota and the control of short chain fatty acids in pig intestines, but not for studying putrefactive products generated in pig intestines. In conclusion, HFA and PFA mice provide a stable and valuable tool for studying the ecosystem and metabolism of the human and animal intestinal microbiota, but they have some limitations as a model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / microbiology
  • Ecology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / physiology*
  • Feces / enzymology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Germ-Free Life*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Models, Biological*
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine