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Open Access NIH Swiss and Black Swiss Mice Have Retinal Degeneration and Performance Deficits in Cognitive Tests

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Swiss mice are among the most commonly used outbred strains in biomedical research. Because prior knowledge of the baseline phenotypes of mouse strains will allow informed selection of strains for particular experiments, we sought to characterize the behavior of two previously untested outbred Swiss strains—NIH Swiss and Black Swiss—in the two most widely used paradigms for evaluating the cognitive abilities of mice. Unlike the C57BL/6J and C57BL/6J-Tyrc-2J controls, animals of both outbred Swiss strains were unable to demonstrate learning in the Morris water maze and contextual fear conditioning paradigms. A polymerase chain reaction assay revealed that all of the NIH Swiss and Black Swiss mice tested were homozygous for the recessive retinal degeneration 1 mutation of the Pde6b gene. Histological examination of NIH Swiss and Black Swiss mouse eyes confirmed the presence of retinal degeneration, which causes visual image blindness. These findings indicate that NIH Swiss and Black Swiss mice are visually impaired and thus may be unsuitable for use in some experiments.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Mount Sinai Hospital Research Institute, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1X5, Canada 2: Innis College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Clinical Psychology Program, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada 3: Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2005-08-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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