Commonly used mouse strains have distinct vascular properties

Jochen Steppan, Sandeep Jandu, Huilei Wang, Sara Kang, William Savage, Roshini Narayanan, Kavitha Nandakumar, Lakshmi Santhanam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mice are the most common animal model to investigate human disease and explore physiology. Mice are practical, cost efficient, and easily used for genetic manipulations. Although variability in cardiac structure and function among mouse strains is well noted, the effect of mouse strain on vascular stiffness indices is not known. Here, we compared mouse strain-dependent differences in key vascular stiffness indices among frequently used inbred mouse strains—C57Bl/6J, 129S, and Bl6/129S. In young healthy animals, baseline blood pressure and heart rate were identical in all strains, and independent of gender. However, both active in vivo and passive ex vivo vascular stiffness indices exhibited distinct differences. Specifically, both male and female 129S animals demonstrated the highest tensile stiffness, were least responsive to acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation, and showed the lowest pulse wave velocity (PWV), an index of in vivo stiffness. C57Bl/6J mice demonstrated the highest PWV, lowest tensile stiffness, and the highest response to acetylcholine-induced vasorelaxation. Interestingly, within each strain, female mice had more compliant aortas. C57Bl/6J mice had thinner vessel walls with fewer layers, whereas 129S mice had the thickest walls with the most layers. Values in the Bl6/129S mixed background mice fell between C57Bl/6J and 129S mice. In conclusion, we show that underlying vascular properties of different inbred wild-type mouse strains are distinct, despite superficial similarities in blood pressure. For each genetic modification, care should be taken to identify proper controls, and conclusions might need to be verified in more than one strain to minimize the risk of false positive studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1175-1181
Number of pages7
JournalHypertension Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Mouse model
  • Strains
  • Vasculature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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