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Routine assessment of the gut microbiome to promote preclinical research reproducibility and transparency
  1. Hannah R Wardill1,2,
  2. Joanne M Bowen1,
  3. Ysabella ZA Van Sebille1,
  4. Rachel J Gibson3
  1. 1 School of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
  2. 2 Centre for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Adelaide, South Australia
  3. 3 Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hannah R Wardill, Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia; hannah.wardill{at}

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The irreproducibility of preclinical, biomedical research is becoming increasingly problematic, as recently highlighted by Omary et al,1 in the June issue of Gut. As discussed, variations in study design, mouse strain, sex and age are important factors that should be adequately described to promote study reproducibility.1 In line with recent speculation,2 authors also emphasised the gut microbiome as a potential confounder underlying inconsistencies in preclinical research data.

Recently, there has been a large influx of studies reporting dysbiotic changes in many preclinical models of human disease, both GI and non-GI.3 ,4 Although informative, much of this research continues to be associative. To dissect causative disease mechanisms, the impact of benign environmental factors relating to study design and rodent husbandry must be acknowledged.

Based on twin studies,5 it is understood that a core subset of bacteria are hereditary.6 However, environmental factors are thought to contribute more heavily to the composition of the gut microbiome. For example, in …

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