Persistence of DNA studied in different ex vivo and in vivo rat models simulating the human gut situation

A. Wilcks, A.H.A.M. van Hoek, R.G. Joosten, B.B.L. Jacobsen, H.J.M. Aarts

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35 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to evaluate the possibility of DNA sequences from genetically modified plants to persist in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. PCR analysis and transformation assays were used to study DNA persistence and integrity in various ex vivo and in vivo systems using gnotobiotic rats. DNA studied was either plasmid DNA, naked plant DNA or plant DNA embedded in maize flour. Ex vivo experiments performed by incubating plant DNA in intestinal samples, showed that DNA is rapidly degraded in the upper part of the GI tract whereas degradation is less severe in the lower part. In contrast, plasmid DNA could be recovered throughout the GI tract when intestinal samples were taken up to 5 h after feeding rats with plasmid. Furthermore, DNA isolated from these intestinal samples was able to transform electro-competent Escherichia coli, showing that the plasmid was still biologically active. The results indicate that ingested DNA may persist in the GI tract and consequently may be present for uptake by intestinal bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-502
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • natural genetic-transformation
  • ingested foreign dna
  • escherichia-coli
  • antibiotic-resistance
  • deoxyribonuclease-i
  • oral bacterium
  • human saliva
  • fate
  • degradation
  • maize

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