Axenic Service by Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC)

Axenic / Gnoto Facility of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal

The Axenic / Gnoto Facility is part of the core animal facility of the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) in Oeiras, Portugal. The IGC mouse facility is partitioned into 5 independent areas, each with a specific bio-containment level, including germ-free and strict SPF. The facility hosts about 50,000 mice that cover close to 100 different inbred strains, available to in-house and associated research groups and visiting scientists. Production and experimental areas are designed to serve active research in various fields of biology (development, neurobiology, infectious diseases, immunology, genetics, host-pathogen interaction, metabolism, and cancer).

The Axenic / Gnoto Facility is adapted for breeding and experimentation purposes. For axenic colony management and maintenance of stock animals, rigid Isolators, transfer chambers and containers are used and equipped with the Double Door Rapid Transfer Port (DPTE®), a user-friendly and safe connecting system for introducing and removing equipment and other materials to and from sterile isolators. To run experimental conditions in germ-free/gnotobiotic mice, the Airtight Sealed Positive Pressure Individually-Ventilated Cages technology is used. In this system, each cage is assembled with an individual HEPA-filter for air in flow ensuring a full sterile environment.

Service Description:

Several specific techniques have been validated in the facility: body weight and body temperature measurement, buccal swab, IP and IV injections, gavage, blood collection, feces collection, surgeries (vasectomy, and renal ischemia-reperfusion), OGTT (Glucose tolerance), ITT (Insulin tolerance), and solid tumour size measurement and follow-up.

Like other research facilities at the IGC, the Axenic / Gnoto Facility is available to scientists worldwide. Researchers who want to work with these mice can be temporarily hosted at the Institute’s laboratories if they wish to conduct their own experiments on site.

Included in the Service:

  • New axenization of strains provided by the user as live animals(minimum of 10 females and 5 males) or quality controlled frozen embryos or sperm (minimum of 40 embryos or 2 straws of sperm)
  • Provision of germ-free animals from the unit production to the user
  • Conduction of gnotobiology experiments
Readily Available Strains

3 strains available, both in Germ-free and SPF status: C57BL/6J, C3H/HeN, C57BL/6.Rag2KO

Disclaimer: Certain mouse lines may not breed under SPF and axenic conditions, and derivation attempts will then be discontinued. Usually, two attempts will be made to derive germ-free mice.

Additional Support
  • The participating axenic / gnotobiology platform provides technological support to perform state-of-the-art experiments relying on the removal and / or manipulation of mouse microbiota in a safe and controlled manner
  • Support researchers with access to organs, tissues and biofluids from germ-free mice, and quick access to mice that are kept under germ-free conditions
  • Logistics support and advice to ship rederived germ-free mice to their facilities can be provided. Dedicated shippers will be provided for transportation and specialised courier services will be recommended
  • Extended breeding services under germ-free conditions
  • The participating axenic / gnotobiology platform can host clients to perform on site experiments, e.g., histology, flow-cytometry, microscopy
Relevant Publications
  1. Sumnima S, Thompson JA, Yilmaz B, et al. Loss of alpha-gal during primate evolution enhanced antibody-effector function and resistance to bacterial sepsis. Cell Host & Microbe. 2021; Mar 10;29(3):347-361.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.12.017.

  2. Schwartz C, Moran T, Saunders SP, et al. Spontaneous atopic dermatitis in mice with a defective skin barrier is independent of ILC2 and mediated by IL‐1β. Allergy. 2019; Oct;74(10):1920-1933. doi: 10.1111/all.13801.

  3. Roulis M, Bongers G, Armaka M, et al. Host and microbiota interactions are critical for development of murine Crohn’s-like ileitis. Mucosal Immunology. 2016; May;9(3):787-97. doi: 10.1038/mi.2015.102.

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