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Am J Pathol. 1984 Aug;116(2):179-92.

"Viable motheaten," a new allele at the motheaten locus. I. Pathology.


A new spontaneous autosomal recessive mutation has recently occurred at the motheaten (me) locus on Chromosome 6 in strain C57BL/6J mice. Homozygotes for the new allele, designated "viable motheaten" (mev), have a mean life span of 61 +/- 2.4 days, compared with only 22 +/- 1.3 days for C57BL/6J-me/me mice. Like the original motheaten mutation, the immediate cause of death in mev/mev mice appears to be severe pneumonitis associated with accumulations of macrophages, granulocytes, and lymphocytes in the lungs. However, because of its longer life span, progression of the disease in mev/mev mice is more amenable to investigation. Eosinophilic crystalline material in alveolar macrophages from mev/mev mice is associated with extravasation of erythrocytes into alveoli. These crystals are morphologically indistinguishable from hematoidin, which results from hemoglobin breakdown following uptake of erythrocytes by macrophages. Severe macrocytic hypochromic anemia with abnormalities in size and shape of erythrocytes develops by 7 weeks. A two-fold increase in peripheral leukocyte count and a five-fold increase in the percentage of neutrophils is seen by 10 weeks. Viable motheaten mice develop focal granulocytic skin lesions by 4 days of age, show depletion of cells from the thymus cortex by 4 weeks, and lack lymphoid follicles in the lymph nodes, spleen, and Peyer's patches. Excessive erythropoiesis and myelopoiesis in the spleen result in marked splenomegaly. Lymph nodes and spleens from mev/mev mice contain increased numbers of plasma cells by 3 weeks; and by 6 weeks, large numbers of atypical plasma cells with Russell bodies are evident. Development of glomerulonephritis by 10 weeks is characterized by granular depositis of immunoglobulin and complement within glomeruli. A twofold increase of blood urea nitrogen levels is present by 15 weeks. Sterility of male mev/mev mice is associated with Leydig cell depletion in the testes, lowered testosterone levels, and impaired spermatogenesis.

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