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Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a novel, non-invasive technique for the measurement of gross body composition in small animals. In the present study the absolute accuracy of the Hologic QDR-1000W scanner was assessed by comparison with direct analysis in twelve rats with a range of body fat and bone mineral content (BMC) values. Fat masses measured by DXA and petroleum-ether extraction were significantly different (P < 0.0023). The DXA technique consistently overestimated fat mass by approximately one third of the measured fat content. BMC derived from the measurement of Ca in ash gave a mean of 8.26 (range 1.57-15.71)g. BMC measured by DXA was not significantly different for the group as a whole. However, there was a trend for DXA to overestimate BMC in animals with low BMC and underestimate in those with higher BMC, compared with direct analysis, such that the 95% limits of agreement for the two techniques were +2.73 to -2.58 g. These results suggest that the present small-animal software developed for use with currently available Hologic machines does not give an accurate measure of gross body composition compared with the results from classical direct analysis.


Journal article


Br J Nutr

Publication Date





803 - 809


Absorptiometry, Photon, Adipose Tissue, Animals, Body Composition, Bone Density, Evaluation Studies as Topic, Female, Male, Obesity, Rats, Rats, Inbred Strains, Sensitivity and Specificity