Spontaneous, heritable colitis in a new substrain of C3H/HeJ mice

Gastroenterology. 1994 Dec;107(6):1726-35. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(94)90813-3.


Background/aims: C3H/HeJ mice at the Jackson Laboratory have periodically been culled because of the occurrence of soft feces, perianal ulceration, and right-sided colitis. No pathogens have been isolated. The goal of the current study was to establish a substrain with a high incidence of this disease.

Methods: Affected male and female C3H/HeJ mice were bred. The clinical, pathological, microbiological, and genetic features of 216 mice of the resulting pedigree were characterized.

Results: A severely affected female crossed with a normal male resulted in a new substrain, denoted C3H/HeJBir, with a high incidence of right-sided colitis. Histologically, lesions occurred primarily in the cecum and proximal colon, characterized by acute and chronic inflammation, crypt abscesses, ulcerations, regenerative hyperplasia, and submucosal scarring. Such colitis peaked at 3-6 weeks; however, similar disease was found sporadically in animals more than 1 year of age. Small lesions at the anorectal junction were common throughout life. An extensive search for pathogens was negative. Genetic analysis of C3H/HeJBir mice suggested that the disease was inherited as a quantitative trait.

Conclusions: C3H/HeJBir mice develop a spontaneous, heritable form of idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease and will be a valuable resource for genetic and immunologic studies of this disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding
  • Cecum / pathology
  • Colitis / genetics*
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Pedigree