The pathology of the Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus): a review

Lab Anim Sci. 1979 Oct;29(5):645-51.


Both naturally occurring disease processes and experimental models of human disease in the Mongolian gerbil were reviewed. The gerbil was highly susceptible to cerebral infarction following unilateral ligation of one common carotid artery and was useful in studies of the pathogenesis of stroke. Spontaneous epileptiform seizures mimicked those of human idiopathic epilepsy, and both seizure-sensitive and resistant strains have been bred. Perhaps because of its more efficient nephron, the gerbil accumulated four to six times as much renal lead as the rat, and the gerbil has been proposed as an experimental model of lead nephropathy. On standard diets, about 10% of the animals became obese, and some showed decreased glucose tolerance, elevated serum immunoreactive insulin and diabetic changes in the pancreas and other organs. Some breeders exhibited hyperactivity of the adrenal cortex associated with hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia and degenerative vascular disease. Although dietary supplements of cholesterol were toxic and did not induce atherosclerosis, the gerbil was useful in other studies of cholesterol absorption and metabolism. Spontaneous, insidious periodontal disease became evident after about 6 months on standard diets, and dental caries were induced by cariogenic diets or by pathodontic streptococci. Spontaneous neoplasia occurred in 8.4--24% of gerbils, usually after 2 years of life. Adrenal cortical, ovarian and cutaneous tumors were the most consistently reported neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocortical Hyperfunction / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Infarction / veterinary
  • Cholesterol / pharmacology
  • Dental Caries / veterinary
  • Diabetes Mellitus / veterinary
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Epilepsy / veterinary
  • Gerbillinae*
  • Lead Poisoning / veterinary
  • Neoplasms / veterinary
  • Obesity / veterinary
  • Periodontal Diseases / veterinary
  • Rodent Diseases*
  • Whipple Disease / veterinary


  • Cholesterol