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An approach to feeding high-percentage fish diets to mice for human and wildlife toxicology studies

Somers, C.M., Valdes, E.V., Quinn, J.S.
Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2006 v.63 no.3 pp. 481-487
Clupea harengus, dietary supplements, dose response, fish, fish consumption, game fish, gels, human population, humans, mice, models, rats, toxicology, wildlife
Experimental feeding of sport fish to rodents has been an important tool for the study of biological effects induced by a contaminated fish diet. Most rodent feeding studies have used low-to-moderate levels of tissue from large fish species incorporated into diets fed to rats and have given little consideration to issues of diet palatability or nutrition. There are currently no rodent diet models suitable for assessing the risk to human populations of diets very high in daily fish content or to wildlife species consuming high percentages of whole, small-bodied fish. In this study, we describe an approach to feeding mice high percentages (up to 50%) of homogenized, whole fish using Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) as a test species. We created a novel gel diet medium for mice that contains a variety of nutritional supplements and is flexible in terms of the fish percentage that can be incorporated. In choice trials, mice preferred 30 and 35% fish gels to their regular commercial dry chow, indicating that the gel diet medium was palatable. In a longer feeding trial, mice ate 35% fish gel for 12 days and 50% fish gel for 12 days (total of 24 consecutive days) and did not differ in body mass compared to age- and sex-matched controls. We conclude that our fish-based gel diet is suitable for rodent feeding trials in toxicology studies that examine dose responses to fish consumption and risk in human and wildlife populations among which daily fish intake is very high. Our general approach may also be applicable for feeding mice materials other than fish.