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Representative Results






Assessment of Gastric Emptying in Non-obese Diabetic Mice Using a [13C]-octanoic Acid Breath Test

Published: March 23rd, 2013



1Enteric Neuroscience Program, Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic

Determination of gastric emptying with a non-invasive [13C]-octanoic acid breath test for tracking gastroparesis in female NOD LtJ mice.

Gastric emptying studies in mice have been limited by the inability to follow gastric emptying changes in the same animal since the most commonly used techniques require killing of the animals and postmortem recovery of the meal1,2. This approach prevents longitudinal studies to determine changes in gastric emptying with age and progression of disease. The commonly used [13C]-octanoic acid breath test for humans3 has been modified for use in mice4-6 and rats7 and we previously showed that this test is reliable and responsive to changes in gastric emptying in response to drugs and during diabetic disease progression8. In this video presentation the principle and practical implementation of this modified test is explained. As in the previous study, NOD LtJ mice are used, a model of type 1 diabetes9. A proportion of these mice develop the symptoms of gastroparesis, a complication of diabetes characterized by delayed gastric emptying without mechanical obstruction of the stomach10.

This paper demonstrates how to train the mice for testing, how to prepare the test meal and obtain 4 hr gastric emptying data and how to analyze the obtained data. The carbon isotope analyzer used in the present study is suitable for the automatic sampling of the air samples from up to 12 mice at the same time. This technique allows the longitudinal follow-up of gastric emptying from larger groups of mice with diabetes or other long-standing diseases.

This manuscript describes the technical and methodological considerations involved in non-invasive measurement of gastric emptying in mice. By following the protocol described here, investigators can reliably and reproducibly follow changes in gastric emptying due to development of disease, study the impact of pharmacological agents on gastric emptying and follow the response of gastric emptying to treatment of underlying diseases or defects6,8,11,12. In previous publications, the application of 13C octanoic acid breath tests was shown to be a useful way of measuring gastric emptying in humans and animals3,8.This paper describes in det....

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1. Training and Habituation of the Mice

  1. Prior to analysis, put all mice in the testing chambers for 2-4 hr with constant airflow in order to habituate them to the testing conditions. This markedly reduces stress levels that might otherwise cause aberrant detection of delayed gastric emptying. Treat the mice the same way as if the gastric emptying experiment was running. Prepare egg yolk (see further) without adding octanoic acid and feed 0.2 g to each mouse.
  2. Repeat this process till the mice ar.......

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A representative data set from three different mice is shown in Figure 2. The black graph represents the data points from a mouse with normal gastric emptying. It shows the fraction of 13C that is recovered in the exhaled air expressed as a percentage of the administered dose per hour expressed as a function of time. The blue curve is from a mouse with an accelerated gastric emptying with a T half value of 40 min and the red curve is from a mouse with a delayed gastric emptying with a T half v.......

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The described technique herein allows for repeated and non-invasive in vivo measurement of solid gastric emptying in mice. This system has the advantage that the animals are not restrained in the measurement chamber, allowing them to move and turn freely. Since this is an unfamiliar environment, the mice still need to be trained and habituated to the testing chambers to prevent effects of stress on gastric emptying. In general, we assume the gastric emptying data are reliable if the intra-mouse variability betwe.......

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This video publication was made possible by funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases (NIDDK) for the Program Project Grant "Pathobiology of the Enteric System" DK 68055. Christopher T. Creedon was supported by the Rochester Public Schools Mentorship Program.

We thank Mr. Gary Stoltz for technical assistance, Ms. Kristy Zodrow for secretarial assistance and Dr. Douglas Baer from Los Gatos Research, Inc (Mountain View, CA).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
A source of constant air-supply, flow as well as composition central air supply in the research facility
130 ml sampling chamber that has air inlet, air outlet, and food administration opening
Plastic tubes for air supply
In-house built
Octanoic acid Cambridge isotope laboratories (Andover, MA) CLM-293-1
To prepare the egg meal:
  • small beaker
  • 50 ml plastic tube
  • Bunsen burner
  • egg
  • spatula
Any supplier Try to be consistent with the egg supplier since the nutritional content and palatability of the eggs can affect ingestion and gastric emptying of the meal
Carbon dioxide isotope analyzer Los Gatos Research Inc. (Mountain View, CA)

  1. Yeung, C. K., McCurrie, J. R. A simple method to investigate the inhibitory effects of drugs on gastric emptying in the mouse in vivo. J. Pharmacol. Toxicol. Methods. 45, 235-240 (2001).
  2. Osinski, M. A., Seifert, T. R., Cox, B. F., Gintant, G. A. An improved method of evaluation of drug-evoked changes in gastric emptying in mice. J. Pharmacol. Toxicol. Methods. 47, 115-120 (2002).
  3. Ghoos, Y. F., et al. Measurement of gastric emptying rate of solids by means of a carbon-labeled octanoic acid breath test. Gastroenterology. 104, 1640-1647 (1993).
  4. Symonds, E., Butler, R., Omari, T. Noninvasive breath tests can detect alterations in gastric emptying in the mouse. Eur. J. Clin. Invest. 32, 341-344 (2002).
  5. Symonds, E. L., Butler, R. N., Omari, T. I. Assessment of gastric emptying in the mouse using the [13C]-octanoic acid breath test. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 27, 671-675 (2000).
  6. Verhulst, P. J. Role of ghrelin in the relationship between hyperphagia and accelerated gastric emptying in diabetic mice. Gastroenterology. 135, 1267-1276 (2008).
  7. Schoonjans, R., et al. The 13C-octanoic acid breath test: validation of a new noninvasive method of measuring gastric emptying in rats. Neurogastroenterol. Motil. 14, 287-293 (2002).
  8. Choi, K. M., et al. Determination of gastric emptying in nonobese diabetic mice. Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol. 293, 1039-1045 (2007).
  9. Atkinson, M. A., Leiter, E. H. The NOD mouse model of type 1 diabetes: as good as it gets?. Nat. Med. 5, 601-604 (1999).
  10. Camilleri, M. Clinical practice. Diabetic gastroparesis. N. Engl. J. Med. 356, 820-829 (2007).
  11. Choi, K. M., et al. Heme oxygenase-1 protects interstitial cells of Cajal from oxidative stress and reverses diabetic gastroparesis. Gastroenterology. 135, 2055-2064 (2008).
  12. Kashyap, P. C., et al. Carbon monoxide reverses diabetic gastroparesis in NOD mice. Am. J. Physiol. GI. G298, G1013-G1019 (2010).

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