Body Composition Analysis

Body composition analysis can be used to investigate whether potential anti-obesity drugs reduce body weight by producing a clinically beneficial selective loss of fat, or by producing non-specific decreases in water (dehydration) and/or protein content (muscle wasting or cachexia), which can be harmful.

Body composition analysis can be determined by classical chemical analysis, by a FoodScan™ near-infra-red meat analyser, or by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).


Chemical analysis

Key features of the gold-standard chemical analysis method are:

  • Suitable for rats and mice
  • Measures carcass fat (Soxhlet), carcass water (freeze drying), carcass protein (Kjeldahl) and carcass ash (furnace)
  • The measurement of ash (bone mass) means that it is more precise than any other method, and can be used to validate other techniques.


The reduction in body weight produced by the MCH1 antagonist,
GW803430, in DIO mice is due to selective fat loss


Chemical analysis can also be used to determine faecal fat, protein, water and ash content and the composition of individual tissues, e.g. total liver fat content.

  • FoodScan™ analyser

The FoodScanTM analyser has AOAC (Association of Official Analytical Chemists) approval as a reference method for the analysis of moisture, fat and protein in meat and meat products.


Key features of body composition analysis performed using the FoodScan™ analyser are:

  • Methodology validated in rats
  • Measures carcass fat, water and protein content, but not ash
  • Cost-effective and quick alternative producing virtually identical body composition results to those obtained using chemical analysis.
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)

RenaSci can provide bone and tissue composition analysis in mice using a Lunar PIXImus Densitomer. We have validated the DEXA technology using classical chemical extraction techniques.


Measures provided by DEXA include:

  •     fat mass (%)
  •     fat mass (g)
  •     total tissue mass (g)
  •     lean mass (g)
  •     bone mineral density (g/cm2)
  •     bone mineral content (g).

DEXA is quicker and cheaper than conventional body composition analysis and can be performed in live animals to provide longitudinal measurement of bone and tissue composition throughout chronic mouse studies.



Longitudinal DEXA measurement of body composition in
DIO mice given rimonabant or switched to a low fat diet



n=10 ***p<0.001 versus vehicle group on high fat diet. Animals were given rimonabant or switched to a low fat diet on Day 1.


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