Germ-free mice do not develop ankylosing enthesopathy, a spontaneous joint disease

Hum Immunol. 2000 Jun;61(6):555-8. doi: 10.1016/s0198-8859(00)00122-1.


Ankylosing enthesopathy (ANKENT) is a naturally occurring joint disease in mice with numerous parallels to human ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Similarities between AS and ANKENT include not only affected tissue (joint entheses) but also association of the disease with genetic background, including MHC genes, gender, and age. Young males with the C57Bl/10 background have been described to suffer from ANKENT and, among H-2 congenic strains, high frequency of afflicted joints has been recorded in B10.BR (H-2(k)) males. Interestingly, the incidence of ANKENT is higher in conventional (CV) males that in their specific-pathogen-free (SPF) counterparts. The latter finding suggests that microbes could play a role as an ANKENT-triggering agent. To further examine this hypothesis we have established a germ-free (GF) colony of B10.BR mice and observed ANKENT incidence in both GF males and their conventionalized (ex-GF) male littermates; 20% of ex-GF males developed ANKENT before 1 year of age. In contrast, no joint disease was observed under GF conditions (p < 0.0001). Our results show that live microflora is required in ANKENT pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / microbiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Germ-Free Life*
  • Incidence
  • Joint Diseases / epidemiology
  • Joint Diseases / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Rheumatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / microbiology*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / microbiology