Disturbances in the gut microbiota are known to be associated with numerous human diseases. Mice have proven to be an invaluable tool for investigating the role of the gut microbiota in disease processes. Nonexperimental factors related to maintaining mice in the laboratory environment are increasingly being shown to have inadvertent effects on the gut microbiota and may function as confounding variables. Microisolation technique is a term used to describe the common biosecurity practice of spraying gloved hands with disinfectant before handling research mice. This practice prevents contamination with pathogenic microorganisms. To investigate if exposure to disinfectants can affect the mouse gut microbiota, C57BL/6 mice were exposed daily for 27 consecutive days to commonly used laboratory disinfectants through microisolation technique. The effects of 70% ethanol and disinfectant products containing chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, or potassium peroxymonosulfate were each evaluated. Fecal pellets were collected after 7, 14, 21, and 28 d of disinfectant exposure, and cecal contents were collected at day 28. DNA extractions were performed on all cecal and fecal samples, and microbial community structure was characterized using 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing. Alpha and β diversity metrics and taxon-level analyses were used to evaluate differences in microbial communities. Disinfectant had a small but significant effect on fecal microbial communities compared with sham-exposed controls, and effects varied by disinfectant type. In general, longer exposure times resulted in greater changes in the fecal microbiota. Effects on the cecal microbiota were less pronounced and only seen with the hydrogen peroxide and potassium peroxymonosulfate disinfectants. These results indicate that laboratory disinfectant use should be considered as a potential factor that can affect the mouse gut microbiota.
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