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Concept: Rat


During acute infection in human and animal hosts, the obligate intracellular protozoan Toxoplasma gondii infects a variety of cell types, including leukocytes. Poised to respond to invading pathogens, dendritic cells (DC) may also be exploited by T. gondii for spread in the infected host. Here, we report that human and mouse myeloid DC possess functional γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and the machinery for GABA biosynthesis and secretion. Shortly after T. gondii infection (genotypes I, II and III), DC responded with enhanced GABA secretion in vitro. We demonstrate that GABA activates GABA(A) receptor-mediated currents in T. gondii-infected DC, which exhibit a hypermigratory phenotype. Inhibition of GABA synthesis, transportation or GABA(A) receptor blockade in T. gondii-infected DC resulted in impaired transmigration capacity, motility and chemotactic response to CCL19 in vitro. Moreover, exogenous GABA or supernatant from infected DC restored the migration of infected DC in vitro. In a mouse model of toxoplasmosis, adoptive transfer of infected DC pre-treated with GABAergic inhibitors reduced parasite dissemination and parasite loads in target organs, e.g. the central nervous system. Altogether, we provide evidence that GABAergic signaling modulates the migratory properties of DC and that T. gondii likely makes use of this pathway for dissemination. The findings unveil that GABA, the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, has activation functions in the immune system that may be hijacked by intracellular pathogens.

Concepts: Immune system, Nervous system, Bacteria, Apicomplexa, Rat, Toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii, Coccidia


Large numbers of inbred laboratory rat strains have been developed for a range of complex disease phenotypes. To gain insights into the evolutionary pressures underlying selection for these phenotypes, we sequenced the genomes of 27 rat strains, including 11 models of hypertension, diabetes, and insulin resistance, along with their respective control strains. Altogether, we identified more than 13 million single-nucleotide variants, indels, and structural variants across these rat strains. Analysis of strain-specific selective sweeps and gene clusters implicated genes and pathways involved in cation transport, angiotensin production, and regulators of oxidative stress in the development of cardiovascular disease phenotypes in rats. Many of the rat loci that we identified overlap with previously mapped loci for related traits in humans, indicating the presence of shared pathways underlying these phenotypes in rats and humans. These data represent a step change in resources available for evolutionary analysis of complex traits in disease models. PAPERCLIP:

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Evolution, Molecular biology, Rat, Selection


It is widely accepted that behavioural changes induced by Toxoplasma gondii are an adaptation of the parasite to enhance transmission to its cat definitive host. In our opinion, this explanation requires a rethink. We argue that the experimental evidence that observed behavioural changes will enhance transmission to cats is not convincing. We also argue that cats and sexual reproduction may not be essential for transmission and maintenance of this parasite. Thus, the selection pressure to infect a cat may not be sufficiently strong for the evolution of adaptive host manipulation to have occurred in order to enhance predation by cats.

Concepts: Immune system, Natural selection, Critical thinking, Predation, Rat, Cat, Toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii


Iron overload has been associated with carcinogenesis in humans. Intraperitoneal administration of ferric nitrilotriacetate initiates a Fenton reaction in renal proximal tubules of rodents that ultimately leads to a high incidence of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) after repeated treatments. We performed high-resolution microarray comparative genomic hybridization to identify characteristics in the genomic profiles of this oxidative stress-induced rat RCCs. The results revealed extensive large-scale genomic alterations with a preference for deletions. Deletions and amplifications were numerous and sometimes fragmented, demonstrating that a Fenton reaction is a cause of such genomic alterations in vivo. Frequency plotting indicated that two of the most commonly altered loci corresponded to a Cdkn2a/2b deletion and a Met amplification. Tumor sizes were proportionally associated with Met expression and/or amplification, and clustering analysis confirmed our results. Furthermore, we developed a procedure to compare whole genomic patterns of the copy number alterations among different species based on chromosomal syntenic relationship. Patterns of the rat RCCs showed the strongest similarity to the human RCCs among five types of human cancers, followed by human malignant mesothelioma, an iron overload-associated cancer. Therefore, an iron-dependent Fenton chemical reaction causes large-scale genomic alterations during carcinogenesis, which may result in distinct genomic profiles. Based on the characteristics of extensive genome alterations in human cancer, our results suggest that this chemical reaction may play a major role during human carcinogenesis.

Concepts: Gene, Cancer, Oncology, Copy number variation, Chromosome, Chemical reaction, Rat, Mesothelioma


Most rodents are small and short-lived, but several lineages have independently evolved long lifespans without a concomitant increase in body-mass. Most notable are the two subterranean species naked mole rat (NMR) and blind mole rat (BMR) which have maximum lifespans of 32 and 21 years, respectively. The longevity of these species has sparked interest in the tumor suppression strategies that may have also evolved, because for many rodent species (including mice, rats, guinea pigs, gerbils, and hamsters) tumors are a major source of late-life mortality. Here, we review the recent literature on anti-cancer mechanisms in long-lived rodents. Both NMR and BMR seem to have developed tumor defenses that rely on extra-cellular signals. However, while the NMR relies on a form of contact inhibition to suppress growth, the BMR evolved a mechanism mediated by the release of interferon, and rapid necrotic cell death. Although both organisms ultimately rely on canonical downstream tumor suppressors (pRB and p53) the studies reveal species can evolve different strategies to achieve tumor-resistance. Importantly, studies of these cancer-resistant rodents may benefit human health if such mechanisms can be activated in human cells.

Concepts: Cancer, Mammal, Rat, Rodent, Muridae, Hamster, Guinea pig, Muroidea


We describe the first implanted glucose biofuel cell (GBFC) that is capable of generating sufficient power from a mammal’s body fluids to act as the sole power source for electronic devices. This GBFC is based on carbon nanotube/enzyme electrodes, which utilize glucose oxidase for glucose oxidation and laccase for dioxygen reduction. The GBFC, implanted in the abdominal cavity of a rat, produces an average open-circuit voltage of 0.57 V. This implanted GBFC delivered a power output of 38.7 μW, which corresponded to a power density of 193.5 μW cm(-2) and a volumetric power of 161 μW mL(-1). We demonstrate that one single implanted enzymatic GBFC can power a light-emitting diode (LED), or a digital thermometer. In addition, no signs of rejection or inflammation were observed after 110 days implantation in the rat.

Concepts: Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Glucose, Redox, Carbon, Rat, Light-emitting diode, Diode


Recent clinical studies revealed emotional and cognitive impairments associated with absence epilepsy. Preclinical research with genetic models of absence epilepsy however have primarily focused on dysfunctional emotional processes and paid relatively less attention to cognitive impairment. In order to bridge this gap, we investigated age-dependent changes in learning and memory performance, anxiety-like behavior, and locomotor activity of WAG/Rij rats (a valid model of generalized absence epilepsy) using passive avoidance, Morris water maze, elevated plus maze, and locomotor activity cage. We tested 5 month-old and 13 month-old WAG/Rij rats and compared their performance to age-matched Wistar rats. Results revealed a decline in emotional and spatial memory of WAG/Rij rats compared to age-matched Wistar rats only at 13 months of age. Importantly, there were no significant differences between WAG/Rij and Wistar rats in terms of anxiety-like behavior and locomotor activity at either age. Results pointed at age-dependent learning and memory deficits in the WAG/Rij rat model of absence epilepsy.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognitive psychology, Cognitive neuroscience, Rat, Performance, Pre-clinical development, Absence seizure, Laboratory rat


Until recently, research in animal welfare science has mainly focused on negative experiences like pain and suffering, often neglecting the importance of assessing and promoting positive experiences. In rodents, specific facial expressions have been found to occur in situations thought to induce negatively valenced emotional states (e.g., pain, aggression and fear), but none have yet been identified for positive states. Thus, this study aimed to investigate if facial expressions indicative of positive emotional state are exhibited in rats. Adolescent male Lister Hooded rats (Rattus norvegicus, N = 15) were individually subjected to a Positive and a mildly aversive Contrast Treatment over two consecutive days in order to induce contrasting emotional states and to detect differences in facial expression. The Positive Treatment consisted of playful manual tickling administered by the experimenter, while the Contrast Treatment consisted of exposure to a novel test room with intermittent bursts of white noise. The number of positive ultrasonic vocalisations was greater in the Positive Treatment compared to the Contrast Treatment, indicating the experience of differentially valenced states in the two treatments. The main findings were that Ear Colour became significantly pinker and Ear Angle was wider (ears more relaxed) in the Positive Treatment compared to the Contrast Treatment. All other quantitative and qualitative measures of facial expression, which included Eyeball height to width Ratio, Eyebrow height to width Ratio, Eyebrow Angle, visibility of the Nictitating Membrane, and the established Rat Grimace Scale, did not show differences between treatments. This study contributes to the exploration of positive emotional states, and thus good welfare, in rats as it identified the first facial indicators of positive emotions following a positive heterospecific play treatment. Furthermore, it provides improvements to the photography technique and image analysis for the detection of fine differences in facial expression, and also adds to the refinement of the tickling procedure.

Concepts: Psychology, Rat, Rodent, Emotion, Paul Ekman, Suffering, Brown rat, Anger


Despite advances to targeted leishmanicidal chemotherapy, defies around severe toxicity, recent emergence of resistant variants and absence of rational vaccine still persist. This necessitates search and/or progressive validation of accessible medicinal remedies including plant based. The study examined both in vivo and in vitro response of L. major infection to combined therapy of Ricinus communis and Azadirachta indica extracts in BALB/c mice as the mouse model. A comparative study design was applied.

Concepts: Immune system, Animal testing, In vivo, In vitro, Rat, Rodent, Mouse, Mice


Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) have a fibrous structure and physical properties similar to asbestos and have been shown to induce malignant mesothelioma of the peritoneum after injection into the scrotum or peritoneal cavity in rats and mice. For human cancer risk assessment, however, data after administration of MWCNT via the airway, the exposure route that is most relevant to humans, is required. The present study was undertaken to investigate the carcinogenicity of MWCNT-N (NIKKISO Co., Ltd) after administration to the rat lung. MWCNT-N was fractionated by passing it through a sieve with a pore size of 35 μm. The average lengths of the MWCNT were 4.2 μm before filtration and 2.6 μm in the flow-through fraction; the length of the retained MWCNT could not be determined. 10-week-old F344/Crj male rats were divided into 5 groups: no treatment, vehicle control, MWCNT-N before filtration, MWCNT-N flow-through, and MWCNT-N retained groups. Administration was by the trans-tracheal intrapulmonary spraying (TIPS) method. Rats were administered a total of 1 mg/rat during the initial 2-weeks of the experiment and then observed up to 109 weeks. The incidences of malignant mesothelioma and lung tumors (bronchiolo-alveolar adenomas and carcinomas) were 6/38 and 14/38, respectively, in the three groups administered MWCNT and 0/28 and 0/28, respectively, in the control groups. All malignant mesotheliomas were localized in the pericardial pleural cavity. The sieve fractions did not have a significant effect on tumor incidence. In conclusion, administration of MWCNT to the lung in the rat induces malignant mesothelioma and lung tumors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Rat, Carbon nanotube, Mesothelioma, Asbestos, Copyright