Optimizing environmental enrichment for Sprague Dawley rats: Exemplary insights into the liver proteome
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Considering the expected increase in the elderly population and the growing emphasis on aging-related biomedical research, the demand for aged laboratory animals has surged, challenging established husbandry practices. Our objective was to establish a cost-effective method for environmental enrichment, utilizing the liver as a representative organ to assess metabolic changes in response to differing enrichment levels.
We conducted a six-month study involving 24 male Sprague Dawley rats who were randomly assigned to four environmental enrichment groups. Two groups were housed in standard cages, while the others were placed in modified rabbit cages. Half of the groups received weekly playtime in an enriched rat housing unit. We evaluated hormone levels, playtime behavior, and subjective handling experience. Additionally, liver tissue proteomic analysis was performed.
Initial corticosterone levels and those after 3 and 6 months showed no significant differences. Yet, testosterone levels were lower in the control group by the end of the study (p=0.007). In the liver tissue, we detected 1,871 distinct proteins, with 77% of them being consistent across all groups. In gene ontology analysis, no specific pathways were overexpressed. In semiquantitative analysis, we observed differences in proteins associated in lipid metabolism such as Apolipoprotein A-I and Acyl-CoA 6-desaturase, which were lower in the control group (p= 0.024 and p=0.009). Enriched environments reduced rat distress, large cages eased handling, and conflicts between rats lessened with bi-weekly interactions.

The manuscript "Optimizing environmental enrichment for Sprague Dawley rats: Exemplary insights into the liver proteome" has been accepted for publication in PLOS ONE.
Authors are Nathalie N. Roschke, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Dietrich Polenz, Oliver Klein, Joseph MGV Gassner, Johann Pratschke, Felix Krenzien, Igor M. Sauer, Nathanael Raschzok, and Simon Moosburner.
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Our manuscript "Depletion of donor dendritic cells ameliorates immunogenicity of both skin and hind limb transplants" has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Immunology, section Alloimmunity and Transplantation. Authors are Muhammad Imtiaz Ashraf, Joerg Mengwasser, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Dietrich Polenz, Kirsten Führer, Steffen Lippert, Peter Tang, Edward Michaelis, Rusan Catar, Johann Pratschke, Christian Witzel, Igor M. Sauer, Stefan G. Tullius, and Barbara Kern.

Acute cellular rejection remains a significant obstacle affecting successful outcomes of organ transplantation including vascularized composite tissue allografts (VCA). Donor antigen presenting cells (APC), particularly dendritic cells (DC), orchestrate early alloimmune responses by activating recipient effector T cells. Employing a targeted approach, we investigated the impact of donor-derived conventional DC (cDC) and APC on the immunogenicity of skin and skin-containing VCA grafts, using mouse models of skin and hind limb transplantation.
By post-transplantation day 6, skin grafts demonstrated severe rejections, characterized by predominance of recipient CD4 T cells. In contrast, hind limb grafts showed moderate rejection, primarily infiltrated by CD8 T cells. While donor depletion of cDC and APC reduced frequencies, maturation, and activation of DC in all analysed tissues of skin transplant recipients, reduction in DC activities was only observed in the spleen of hind limb recipients. Donor cDC and APC depletion did not impact all lymphocyte compartments but significantly affected CD8 T cells and activated CD4 T in lymph nodes of skin recipients. Moreover, both donor APC and cDC depletion attenuated the Th17 immune response, evident by significantly reduced Th17 (CD4+IL-17+) cells in the spleen of skin recipients and reduced levels of IL-17E and lymphotoxin-α in the serum samples of both skin and hind limb recipients. In conclusion, our findings underscore the highly immunogenic nature of skin component in VCA. The depletion of donor APC and cDC mitigates the immunogenicity of skin grafts while exerting minimal impact on VCA.




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