Mouse models of asthma: a comparison between C57BL/6 and BALB/c strains regarding bronchial responsiveness, inflammation, and cytokine production

Inflamm Res. 2009 Dec;58(12):845-54. doi: 10.1007/s00011-009-0054-2. Epub 2009 Jun 9.


Objective: Animal models of asthma mimic major features of human disease. Since the genetic background of experimental animals might affect hyperresponsiveness and inflammation, we studied its potential influence and the mechanisms leading to differences in strains.

Methods: We applied a mouse model of allergic asthma to BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice.

Results: BALB/c mice displayed greater levels of airway reactivity to methacholine than C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, BALB/c mice exhibited higher numbers of mast cells in lung tissue when compared to C57BL/6. On the contrary, eosinophil and neutrophil counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) as well as peribronchial eosinophilia were greater in C57BL/6. IL (Interleukin)-4, IL-5, IL-13, and CCL11 levels measured in whole-lung extracts were higher in BALB/c, while, in sharp contrast, CCL11 and CCL5 levels were higher in BALF of C57BL/6 mice.

Conclusions: We observed phenotypic differences between C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice in an asthma model with different distributions of pro-inflammatory cytokines and inflammatory cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Cytokines* / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines* / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Methacholine Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Methacholine Chloride / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / genetics
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C / immunology*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / genetics
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / immunology*
  • Ovalbumin / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin