The laboratory mouse is the most common used mammalian research model in biomedical research. Usually these animals are maintained in germ-free, gnotobiotic, or specific-pathogen-free facilities. In these facilities, skilled staff takes care of the animals and scientists usually don’t pay much attention about the formulation and quality of diets the animals receive during normal breeding and keeping. However, mice have specific nutritional requirements that must be met to guarantee their potential to grow, reproduce and to respond to pathogens or diverse environmental stress situations evoked by handling and experimental interventions. Nowadays, mouse diets for research purposes are commercially manufactured in an industrial process, in which the safety of food products is addressed through the analysis and control of all biological and chemical materials used for the different diet formulations. Similar to human food, mouse diets must be prepared under good sanitary conditions and truthfully labeled to provide information of all ingredients. This is mandatory to guarantee reproducibility of animal studies. In this review, we summarize some information on mice research diets and general aspects of mouse nutrition including nutrient requirements of mice, leading manufacturers of diets, origin of nutrient compounds, and processing of feedstuffs for mice including dietary coloring, autoclaving and irradiation. Furthermore, we provide some critical views on the potential pitfalls that might result from faulty comparisons of grain-based diets with purified diets in the research data production resulting from confounding nutritional factors.
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