qPCR Testing of Laboratory Mice
In recent years it has become apparent that further refinement is needed in the quality of laboratory mice. The scientific community has increasingly recognized that infectious diseases in these animals have the potential to significantly alter research results. Infections of rodents include bacterial pathogens, opportunists, and commensals, as well as viral and parasitic pathogens. Disease agents and their effects on research and understanding the epizootiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and how to control natural infections of laboratory mice are of great importance.
It is important to distinguish between subclinical and clinically apparent infections. It cannot be overemphasized that aberrations in research results due to natural infections often occur in the absence of clinical disease. Thus, prevention of infection, not merely prevention of clinical disease, is essential.
The prevalence of pathogens in contemporary rodent populations provides an indication of the degree to which diagnostic methods have found practical application in the prevention of pathogen infections. Health surveillance of laboratory mice is important and necessary to determine their pathogen status and general state of health. The methodologies used in health surveillance generally include molecular diagnostic tests (endpoint PCR and qPCR), serologic tests, bacterial cultures, parasitologic examinations, and histopathology. Each of these may include very few or many procedures to detect different infectious agents or disease processes.
For the past decade the most useful methodology utilized by diagnostic laboratories for detection of pathogens associated with infectious diseases in laboratory mice is quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). The Real-time PCR Research and Diagnostics Core Facility (Core Facility) at UC Davis has been utilizing this methodology for over a decade in the fields of biotechnological research and veterinary diagnostics, for molecular detection of infectious agents, identification of biomarkers, and gene expression.
The Core Facility will closely collaborate with the Comparative Pathology Laboratory (Com-Path) at UC Davis in launching this program in which qPCR assays will be used for detection of mouse pathogens. These assays will be used for health surveillance of laboratory animals to determine their pathogen status and general state of health.