Connie A. Morbach, Yves W. Brans

Determination of Body Composition in Growing Rats by Total Body Electrical Conductivity

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

SummaryTotal body electrical conductivity (TOBEC), measured with an Em‐Scan SA‐1 analyzer, was evaluated as a means of estimating fat‐free mass and total body water content noninvasively in small laboratory animals. Ninety‐four rats whose weight ranged from 5.53 to 170.84 g at 0–50 days of age were studied. The animals were killed by intraperitoneal injection of a pentobarbital overdose. After weight, crown‐rump length (CRL) and TOBEC were measured, and the animals were minced with scissors and desiccated to constant weight in a convection oven. Fat was extracted by multiple bathings in petroleum ether followed by Soxhlet extraction. Fifty‐four rats were used to determine the relation between fat‐free mass (FFM), total body water (TBW), and TOBEC# (E) by regression analysis. The best correlations were observed between FFM and (E X CRL)1/2 (r = 0.995, p < 0.0001) and between TBW and (E X CRL)1/2 (r = 0.995, p < 0.0001). Forty rats were used to determine the predictive value of TOBEC estimates. With this instrument, TOBEC tended to underestimate FFM by an average of 3.9% and TBW by 5.3%. Accuracy was questionable for animals smaller than 13 g and TOBEC did not provide useful estimates of total body fat. Subject to these limitations, TOBEC instruments should prove to be useful for sequential in vivo estimations of body composition during growth and development of small animals.

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