A Mouse Model for Vitiligo

J Invest Dermatol. 1986 Sep;87(3):299-304. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12524353.


As the result of a long search for a depigmenting mouse that could serve as a model for the study of vitiligo, we have located a strain that arose from the C57BL/6J. Its provisional genetic designation is C57BL/6J Ler-vit/vit. This vitiligo mouse has congenital dorsal and ventral white spots (piebaldism) as well as progressive replacement of pigmented hairs by white hairs with each spontaneous molt or after plucking. The lack of pigment is due to the absence of melanocytes from the amelanotic hair follicles and epidermis. As in human beings and the Smyth chicken model, there is also diminution of ocular pigment. Reciprocal skin transplants between C57BL/6J and vitiligo mice, and transplants into nude mice, suggest a programmed pigment cell death in the vitiligo mice. Like human beings with vitiligo, maximally depigmented vitiligo mice have a decreased contact sensitivity response in comparison to age-matched C57BL/6J controls. The resistance to injected B16 melanomas is lowered. Vitiligo mice show no signs of premature aging. Already at this early stage in the study of this new animal model, there are findings that open a range of new approaches to the study and treatment of patients with vitiligo and melanomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / physiopathology
  • Dermatitis, Contact / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains*
  • Mice, Nude
  • Phenotype
  • Rodent Diseases / genetics*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Vitiligo / complications
  • Vitiligo / genetics
  • Vitiligo / veterinary*