Microbial and histopathologic considerations in the use of mouse models of inflammatory bowel diseases


  • Trenton R. Schoeb DVM, PhD,

    1. Department of Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Daniel C. Bullard PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
    • Department of Genetics, Hugh Kaul Human Genetics Building (KHGB) 602B, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 720 South 20th St., Birmingham, AL 35294-0024
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Partially supported by National Institutes of Health grants 5R24DK064400 (“Mucosal HIV and Immunobiology Center”) (to P.D. Smith), 1P01DK071176 (“Innate and Adaptive Immunity in IBD”) (to C.O. Elson), and a Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America grant (to D.C. Bullard).



Mouse models provide powerful tools to investigate disease mechanisms and are widely used in inflammatory bowel disease research. However, it is common for reports of mouse model studies to lack potentially important information about the microbial status of the mice and the method used to evaluate disease expression for statistical analysis. For example, it is common practice to state that the mice were housed under specific pathogen-free conditions but provide no further information regarding the presence or absence of organisms such as Helicobacter spp. that are known or likely to affect disease expression, thus omitting information potentially important to the expected phenotype of the mice and their responses to experimental manipulation. We therefore encourage authors to use such terms as “conventional” and “specific pathogen-free” precisely, to state the agents from which the mice are represented to be free, and to provide a brief description of the health monitoring protocol. Descriptions of histopathologic methods used to evaluate colitis in mouse models also often do not include sufficient detail to allow readers to understand and evaluate the methods; in addition, the lesions commonly are shown in photomicrographs that are too small and of too low resolution to be interpreted. Inasmuch as such methods are often the major or only source of data upon which conclusions regarding genotype or experimental treatment effects are based, the method employed should be fully described, and photomicrographs should be of adequate size and resolution to allow independent assessment. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012)