Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis. 2012;746(2):104-112
Abstract: The use of gene expression profiling in both clinical and laboratory settings would be enhanced by better characterization of variation due to individual, environmental, and technical factors. Analysis of microarray data from untreated or vehicle-treated animals within the control arm of toxicogenomics studies has yielded useful information on baseline fluctuations in liver gene expression in the rodent. Here, studies which highlight contributions of different factors to gene expression variability in the rodent liver are discussed including a large meta-analysis of rat liver, which identified genes that vary in control animals in the absence of chemical treatment. Genes and their pathways that are the most and least variable were identified in a number of these studies. Life stage, fasting, sex, diet, circadian rhythm and liver lobe source can profoundly influence gene expression in the liver. Recognition of biological and technical factors that contribute to variability of background gene expression can help the investigator in the design of an experiment that maximizes sensitivity and reduces the influence of confounders that may lead to misinterpretation of genomic changes. The factors that contribute to variability in liver gene expression in rodents are likely analogous to those contributing to human interindividual variability in drug response and chemical toxicity. Identification of batteries of genes that are altered in a variety of background conditions could be used to predict responses to drugs and chemicals in appropriate models of the human liver.
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