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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70512. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070512. Print 2013.

Mouse strain determines cardiac growth potential.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.



The extent of heart disease varies from person to person, suggesting that genetic background is important in pathology. Genetic background is also important when selecting appropriate mouse models to study heart disease. This study examines heart growth as a function of strain, specifically C57BL/6 and DBA/2 mouse strains.


In this study, we test the hypothesis that two strains of mice, C57BL/6 and DBA/2, will produce varying degrees of heart growth in both physiological and pathological settings.


Differences in heart dimensions are detectable by echocardiography at 8 weeks of age. Percentages of cardiac progenitor cells (c-kit+ cells) and mononucleated cells were found to be in a higher percentage in DBA/2 mice, and more tri- and quad-nucleated cells were in C57BL/6 mice. Cardiomyocyte turnover shows no significant changes in mitotic activity, however, there is more apoptotic activity in DBA/2 mice. Cardiomyocyte cell size increased with age, but increased more in DBA/2 mice, although percentages of nucleated cells remained the same in both strains. Two-week isoproterenol stimulation showed an increase in heart growth in DBA/2 mice, both at cardiomyocyte and whole heart level. In isoproterenol-treated DBA/2 mice, there was also a greater expression level of the hypertrophy marker, ANF, compared to C57BL/6 mice.


We conclude that the DBA/2 mouse strain has a more immature cardiac phenotype, which correlates to a cardiac protective response to hypertrophy in both physiological and pathological stimulations.

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