Experimental Physiology Rooms


Experimental Physiology Rooms - deep phenotyping in farmed animals using the stable isotope tracer and nutrient analysis labs

The Experimental Physiology Rooms are integrated in the Animal Technical Center (Tiertechnikum) of the FBN and allow performing nutritional and metabolic studies (deep phenotyping) in pigs, cattle and small ruminants with individual measurements of feed and water intake in a climatized environment.
The facility entails four rooms:

  • Room 1 (98 m2) provides six tied-stall places for cows or heifers.
  • Room 2 (83 m2) can be equipped with 12 pens or alternatively with 12 metabolic cages for pigs between 5 to 110 kg
  • Room 3 (83 m2) can be used with a maximum of 12 pigs, sheep, goats or calves which are singly housed in pens.
  • In Room 4 (36 m2) either 6 growing pigs or 2 adult cattle can be housed.

Rooms 1, 2 and 3 can be climatized between 15 to 25 °C with 35-80% relative humidity, whereas in Room 4 the ambient temperature can be controlled between 4–28 °C (without humidity control).
All rooms allow the performance of

  • Nutritional studies, i.e. testing effects of feed quantity and quality or bioactive substances
  • Metabolic performance/challenge studies with continuous or bolus application  of tracers (stable isotope (13C, 18O, 2H, 15N) labelled nutrients/metabolites); parameters to be measured: oxidation rate, nutrient turnover rate, protein synthesis rate, first pass splanchnic uptake of nutrients, energy expenditure, gluconeogenesis
  • Clamp studies to evaluate glucose metabolism (euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic or hyperglycaemic clamps)
  • Diurnal metabolic monitoring and feed challenge studies (requires circadian blood profiling)
  • Balance studies

Plasma, saliva, milk, breath, urine and fecal samples can be measured in our in-house chromatographic and mass spectrometric laboratories featuring

  • Gas-chromatography (GC)-flame ionisation detection (e.g. short-chain fatty acids, alcohols),
  • GC - mass spectrometry (e.g. long-chain fatty acids, glucose), High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence, diode array (UV-VIS) or refractive index detection (e.g. amino acids, peptides, sugars / sugar alcohols, organic acids),
  • Thin layer chromatography (TLC, e.g. preparative isolation of lipids),
  • Clinical chemistry automatic analyzer (e.g. alanine amino transferase, glutamate-dehydrogenase, creatine kinase, albumin, beta-hydroxybutyrate, bilirubin, cholesterol, glucose, urea, uric acid, creatinine, lactate, free fatty acids, total protein, triglycerides).
  • Combustion analysis (Dumas) for the determination of nitrogen/protein contents.

Based on our extensive expertise of metabolic and nutritional testing specific protocols to test in vivo functional physiological features in farmed animals and mice are available. Experts analyze samples collected in the FBN Experimental Physiology Rooms or samples collected externally.

Animal study protocols are approved by the relevant Animal Care Committee, and conform to the German Animal Protection Law and the DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. We aim to reduce animal experiments and apply the 3Rs principle (replacement; reduction; refinement).

Note: The laboratory analyses can be done also on samples collected in experiments in the Respiration Chambers.