Core Facility for Germ-free Research
Germ-free (GF) research models are raised in an environment devoid of resident bacterial flora (microbiota). At Karolinska Institutet, GF models are reared at the Core Facility for Germ-free Research (CFGR).
Since the 1950s, Karolinska Institutet has maintained a unique platform for the handling and derivation of gnotobiotic models kept under germ-free conditions. Established by the late Professor Bengt Gustafsson, the current CFGR unit functions as a core facility for KI and provides GF models to academic researchers as well as to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. This facility is one of a handful in Scandinavia, and the number of similar facilities/units throughout the world is still very low.
The Core Facility for Germ-free Research is part of Comparative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet.
Germfree models and the study of host-microbe interactions
The human body is populated by trillions of microorganisms, a vast majority of which reside in the gastrointestinal tract. Currently, there is a scientific renaissance in the study of the microbiota, a factor now believed to be important for development, in nutrition and metabolism and in the maintenance of human health. The gut microbiota furthermore can help sustain resistance to potentially harmful bacteria. This awakening stems from the accumulating reports and ever expanding evidence that the gut microbiota can impose beneficial effects on local chronic inflammatory processes as well as impact on the growing organism. More recent data indicate that gut flora appear to exert hitherto unsuspected systemic effects, on adipose tissue, adaptive immunity, angiogenesis and development of allergic disorders.
The resident bacteria outnumber human somatic and germ cells by about tenfold and represent a combined microbial genome well in excess of the human genome. Nevertheless large fractions of the gut microbiota are still to be described, let alone properly investigated. Today, the gnotobiotic model provides a platform for sophisticated studies to investigate underlying molecular mechanisms behind the workings of the microflora. Effects of the microbiota on chronic inflammatory diseases (Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Atherosclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis etc), metabolic disorders like type II diabetes and obesity can be studied. The use of GF models has also been crucial in revealing the relevance and impact of the microbiota on normal development and physiology of the host.
Today, CFGR keeps a total of 1200 germ-free and 3000 SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) individuals. The access to genome information and high through put technology has dramatically changed the utilization of this facility. The facility can tailor-make GF lines upon request for a competitive price. The access to cryogenic freezing capacities facilitates this expansion and we are now able to take orders by shipment of frozen embryos.
We can derive GF strains on demand every month, and will keep SPF controls in our conventional facility. We also provide technical assistance, including strain handling and lab analyses (e.g. genetic typing by PCR), RNA and DNA extraction. We can tailor-make special requests for long term experiments involving injections, tissue and sampling etc. In addition we can also assist in shipment of germ free strains to your own home laboratory where these can be kept GF for up to one week under special conditions.
Assistance and advice in experimental planning and execution of experiments is available. We can arrange access to pathologists, and perform simple tissue analysis. CFGR also houses a state of the art molecular biology laboratory.
Interested in germ-free research?
1. First, contact us to discuss the experiments:
2. All scientists must have a valid ethical approval. For non Swedish-speaking researchers CFGR will apply on their behalf.
3. Fill in the appropriate order form: