Merchant, Hamid A., McConnell, Emma L, Liu, Fang, Ramaswamy, Chandrasekaran, Kulkarni, Rucha P, Basit, Abdul W and Murdan, Sudaxshina (2011) Assessment of gastrointestinal pH, fluid and lymphoid tissue in the guinea pig, rabbit and pig, and implications for their use in drug development. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 42 (1-2). pp. 3-10. ISSN 0928-0987

Laboratory animals are often used in drug delivery and research. However, basic information about their gastrointestinal pH, fluid volume, and lymphoid tissue is not completely known. We have investigated these post-mortem in healthy guinea pigs, rabbits and pigs, to assess their suitability for pre-clinical studies by comparing the results with reported human literature. The mean gastric pH (fed ad libitum) was 2.9 and 4.4 in guinea pig and pig, respectively. In contrast, a very low pH (1.6) was recorded in the rabbits. The small intestinal pH was found in the range of 6.4-7.4 in the guinea pigs and rabbits, whereas lower pH (6.1-6.7) was recorded in the pig, which may have consequences for ionisable or pH responsive systems when tested in pig. A relatively lower pH than in the small intestine was found in the caecum (6.0-6.4) and colon (6.1-6.6) of the guinea pig, rabbit and the pig. The water content in the gastrointestinal tract of guinea pig, rabbit and pig was 51g, 153g and 1546g, respectively. When normalized to the body weight, the guinea pig, had larger amounts of water compared to the rabbit and the pig (guinea pig>rabbit>pig); in contrast, a reverse order was found when normalized to per unit length of the gut (guinea pig<rabbit<pig). The lymphoid tissue distribution (lymphoid follicles, Peyer's patches and long strips) along the length of the gut in these animals is presented; in particular, an abundance of lymphoid tissue was found in pig's stomach, small intestine and caecum, and rabbit's appendix. Their ample presence indicated the potential utility of these animal species in oral and colonic vaccination. These differences in the gastrointestinal parameters of the guinea pig, rabbit and pig reiterates the crucial importance of correctly selecting animal models for pre-clinical studies.

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