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Inbred Strains of Mice: SWR


Inbr: F148 (J). Albino. Genet: c, rd. Origin: Swiss mice from A. de Coulon of Lausanne, inbred by Lynch from about 1926 (Lynch, 1969). Now widely used in research as a general-purpose strain. Develops extreme polydipsia and polyuria on ageing. Maint. by J, Ola.


Low percent carcass lipid on a high-fat diet (1/9) (West et al 1992).


Low intrastrain aggression (11/14) (Southwick and Clark, 1966). High avoidance conditionability (1/9) (Royce, 1972). Poor T-maze learning (5/6) (Stasik, 1970). Low spontaneous bar-pressing activity (14/14) (Southwick and Clark, 1968). Ten "non-taster" congenic strains on the SWR "taster" genetic background have been developed by repeated backcrossing with selection for inability to taste bitter compounds including raffinose undecaacetate, glucose pentaacetate and brucine (Harder et al, 1996).

Life-span and spontaneous disease

Life-span in conventional conditions intermediate in males (14/22 = 616 days) but short in females (7/22 = 496 days) (Storer, 1966). Pulmonary tumours 80% in mice living to 18 months (Heston, 1963). Mammary tumours 7-28% (Deringer, 1970). Develops extreme polydipsia and polyuria (nephrogenic diabetes insipidus) on ageing (Kutscher et al., 1975; Kutscher and Schmalback, 1975k, 1975). Low gross tumour incidence in females (19/22) (Storer, 1967). One or more tumours found in 62% of mice. Lung tumours 36%, mammary tumours 30% (Rabstein et al., 1973., 1973). Arteriosclerosis common (Russell and Meier, 1966). About 10-25% of SWRxSWXJ-9 F1 hybrid mice spontaneously develop granulosa cell tumours. These secrete inhibin, which can be used as a marker for tumour-bearing animals (Gocze et al, 1997).

Normal physiology and biochemistry

High metabolic rate (4/18) (Storer, 1967). High serum ceruloplasmin levels (7/27 in females, 7/26 in males) (Meier and MacPike, 1968). High systolic blood pressure (1/19) (Schlager and Weibust, 1967). Low plasma cholesterol levels (3/11) but high triglyceride levels (10/11) (Jiao et al 1990). Low sensitivity to thyrotropin (18/21) (Levy et al., 1965., 1965). Low erythrocyte catalase (15/18) (Hoffman and Rechcigl, 1971). High kidney and liver arylsulphatase activity (3/12) (Daniel, 1976). High spermatazoal beta-glucuronidase activity (1/9) (Erickson, 1976). Arterial blood has a high pH (1/10) (Bernstein, 1966). Low hepatic delta-aminolaevulinic acid synthetase activity after DDC treatment (12/15) (Gross and Hutton, 1971). Resistant to the development of obesity assocaited with adipocyte insensitivity to insulin (contrast AKR/J) (Eberhart et al, 1994). Consume 30% fewer calories than susceptible AKR mice,with a significantly higher intake of carbohydrate (62 vs 24%) (Smith et al, 1997).


High susceptibility to transplacental tumour induction by 1-ethyl-1-nitrosourea (2/5) (Diwan et al., 1973., 1973). Resistant to skin ulceration by DMBA (cf. 9/22) (Thomas et al., 1973., 1973). Resistant to the development of uterine tumours following treatment with DMBA at 4-weeks of age (cf 3/6) (Tsubura et al, 1993). Susceptible to colon carcinogenesis by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (cf. 3/7) (Evans et al., 1977., 1977). Resistant to teratogenic effects of acetazolamide (6/6) (Green et al., 1973., 1973). Susceptible to `CNS syndrome' from high doses of X-irradiation (5/5) (Yuhas, 1968). Long survival in 90% oxygen (2/10) (Lieberman and Kellog, 1967). Low LD50 to X-irradiation (8/9) (Yuhas and Storer, 1969). Sensitive to X-irradiation (9/10 females, 7/10 males) (Storer, 1966). Susceptible to toxic effects of isoniazid (9/10) (Taylor, 1976b). Sensitive to seizures induced by nicotine (17/19) (Marks et al 1989). Low voluntary comsumption of morphine in two-bottle choice situation (15/15) (Belknap et al, 1993). A diet containing 15% dairy fat, 1% cholesterol and 0.5% cholic acid caused a high incidence of cholesterol gallstones (like C57L, A, contrast SM, AKR, DBA/2) (Faulkner et al, 1995). Prolonged administration of 2mg 5-aminolevulinic acid/ml of drinking water resulted in uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase insufficiency (11% of controls) and uroporphyria within eight weeks (contrast DBA/2) (Constantin et al, 1996).


Susceptible to experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) (2/18) (Levine and Sowinski, 1973). High susceptibility to EAE (2/10) with high severity (1/10) and mortality (2/10) and spontaneous relapse (4/10) (Lindsey, 1996).Low lymphocyte phytohaemmagglutinin response (36/43) (Heiniger et al., 1975., 1975). Poor immune response to low doses of bovine gammaglobulin (cf. 4/8) (Levine and Vaz, 1970). Poor immune response to ovomucoid, but good response to ovalbumin (cf. 6/12) (Vaz et al., 1971., 1971). Large quantity of antibody produced (2/7), but only intermediate relative affinity (4/7) (Alpers et al., 1972., 1972). Erythrocytes have low agglutinability (cf. 11/25) (Rubinstein et al., 1974., 1974). Susceptible to induction of experimental autoimmune thyroiditis (cf. 3/5) (Vladutiu and Rose, 1971a). Resistant to the induction of arthritis by type II collagen (Ortman et al, 1994). Develop allergic conjunctivitis and specific anti-ragweel IgE following topical exposure of the nasal and conjunctival mucosa ragweed. The effects were reduced in mice treated with nedocromil sodium (Marayo-Lloves et al, 1996).


Susceptible to herpes simplex virus (10/11) (Lopez, 1975). Susceptible to LCM virus infection (5/5) (Oldstone and Dixon, 1968). Encephalomyocarditis virus causes diabetes mellitus (cf. 7/14) (Boucher et al., 1975., 1975). In contrast to ten other strains, it does not carry type I and II endogenous type C viruses (cf. NZB) (Stephenson et al., 1975., 1975). Carries no detectable endogenous ecotropic MuLV DNA sequences (Jenkins et al 1982). Susceptible to immune-mediated central nervous system demyelination following infection with Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus. This is genetically dominant. One copy of H2q is sufficient for the disease, but an additional non-H2 gene is also implicated (Nicholson et al, 1995).

Rapid immunological expulsion of Trichinella spiralis worms (Wakelin and Donachie 1980). Susceptible to Lyme borreliosis (Borrelia burgdorferi) when inoculated at 3 weeks of age (2/5) and as adults. Mice inoculated at age 3 weeks also developed polyarthritis. (Barthold et al 1990). Mouse mammary tumor proviral loci have been identified by Lee and Eicher (1990). An ecotropic murine leukemia virus (MuLV) isolate can infect the thecal cells surrounding the follicles in the ovary and the Leydig cells in the testis. Both types actively synthesize viral RNA and express a viral antigen and can infect the germ line or the early embryo or both when inoculated at birth (Panthier et al 1989).

Pattern of infection with Leishmania major depends on site of innoculation of parasite, in contrast with BALB/c and most other mouse strains, where route of infection is not critical (Nabors and Farrell, 1994).

Develop severe myocarditis following infection with Coxsackie virus B3 (Zhang et al, 1994).


Prolific ovulators in response to exogenous hormones and the one-cell embryos have large and prominant pronuclei with good resistance to lysis following microinjection. The strain, like strain FVB, is highly suitable for the propogation of transgenes particularly as it is genetically well defined (Osman et al, 1997)


High degree of genetic distinctiveness (1/27) (Taylor, 1972). Large brain/body weight ratio (5/20) (Roderick et al., 1973., 1973).

Alpers J. H., Steward M. W., and Southill J. E. (1972) Differences in immune elimination in inbred mice. The role of low affinity antibody. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 12, 121-132.

Barthold S. W., Beck D. S., Hansen G. M., Terwilliger G. A., and Moody K. D. (1990) Lyme borreliosis in selected strains and ages of laboratory mice. J. Infect. Dis. 162, 133-138.

Belknap J. K., Crabbe J. C., Riggan J., and O'Toole L. A. (1993) Voluntary consumption of morphine in 15 inbred mouse strains. Psychopharmacology 112, 352-358.

Bernstein S. E. (1966) Physiological characteristics, in Biology of the Laboratory Mouse, 2nd. ed. (Green E. L., ed), pp. 337-350. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Boucher D. W., Hayashi K., Rosenthal J., and Notkins A. L. (1975) Virus-induced diabetes mellitus. III. Influence of sex and strain of host. J. Infect. Dis. 131, 462-466.

Constantin D., Francis J. E., Akhtar R. A., Clothier B., and Smith A. G. (1996) Uroporphyria induced by 5-aminolaevulinic acid alone in Ahrd SWR mice. Biochemical Pharmacology 52, 1407-1413.

Daniel W. L. (1976) Genetics of murine liver and kidney arylsulfatase B. Genetics 82, 477-491.

Deringer M. K. (1970) Mammary tumors in strains BL/LyDe and SWR/LyDe mice. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 45, 215-218.

Diwan B. A., Meier H., and Huebner R. J. (1973) Transplacental effects of 1- ethyl-1-nitrosourea in inbred strains of mice. III. Association between infectious or subinfectious endogenous type-C-RNA tumour virus expression and chemically induced tumorigenesis. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 51, 1965-1970.

Eberhart G. P., West D. B., Boozer C. N., and Atkinson R. L. (1994) Insulin sensitivity of adipocytes from inbred mouse strains resistant or sensitive to diet-induced obesity. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 266, R1423-R1428.

Erickson R. P. (1976) Strain variation in spermatazoal -glucuronidase in mice. Genet. Res. 28, 139-145.

Evans J. T., Shows T. B., Sproul E. E., Paolini N. S., Mittelman A., and Hauschka T. S. (1977) Genetics of colon carcinogenesis in mice treated with 1, 2-dimethylhydrazine. Cancer Res. 37, 134-136.

Faulkner C. B., Davidson M. K., Davis J. K., Schoeb T. R., Simecka J. W., and Lindsey J. R. (1995) Acute Mycoplasma pulmonis infection associated with coagulopathy in C3H/HeN mice. Lab. Animal Sci. 45, 368-372.

Gocze P. M., Beamer W. G., De Jong F. H., and Freeman D. A. (1997) Hormone synthesis and responsiveness of spontaneous granulosa cell tumors in (SWR x SWXJ-9) F1 mice. Gynecologic Oncology 65, 143-148.

Green M. C., Azar C. A., and Maren T. H. (1973) Strain differences in susceptibility to the teratogenic effect of acetazolamide in mice. Teratology 8, 143-145.

Gross S. and Hutton J. (1971) Induction of hepatic -aminolaevulinic acid synthetase activity in strains of inbred mice. J. Biol. Chem. 246, 606-614.

Harder D. B., Gannon K. S., and Whitney G. (1996) SW. B6-Soab nontaster congenic strains completed and a sucrose octaacetate congenic quartet tested with other bitters. Chemical Senses 21, 507-517.

Heiniger H. J., Taylor B. A., Hards E. J., and Meier H. (1975) Heritability of the phytohaemagglutinin responsiveness of lymphocytes and its relationship to leukemogenesis. Cancer Res. 35, 825-831.

Heston W. E. (1963) Genetics of neoplasia, in Methodology in mammalian genetics (Burdette W. J., ed), pp. 247-268. Holden-Day, San Francisco.

Hoffman H. A. and Rechcigl M. Jr. (1971) Erythrocyte catalase in inbred mice. Enzyme 12, 219-225.

Jenkins N. A., Copeland N. G., Taylor B. A., and Lee B. K. (1982) Organization, distribution, and stability of endogenous ecotropic murine leukemia virus DNA sequences in chromosomes of Mus musculus. J. Virol. 43, 26-36.

Jiao S., Cole T. G., Kitchens R., Pfleger B., and Schonfeld G. (1990) Genetic heterogeneity of lipoproteins in inbred strains of mice: analysis by gel-permeation chromatography. Metabolism 39, 155-160.

Kutscher C. L. and Schmalbach N. L. (1975) Effects of water deprivation, NaCl injection, and seven aversive taste stimuli on drinking in two normal mouse strains and one with diabetes insipidus. Physiol. Behav. 15, 659-667.

Lee B. K. and Eicher E. M. (1990) Segregation patterns of endogenous mouse mammary tumor viruses in five recombinant inbred strain sets [published erratum appears in J Virol 1991 Mar;65(3):1666]. J. Virol. 64, 4568-4572.

Levine B. B. and Vaz N. M. (1970) Effect of combinations of inbred strain, antigen and antigen dose on immune responsiveness and reagin production in the mouse. Int. Arch. Allergy 39, 156-171.

Levine S. and Sowinski R. (1973) Experimental allergic encephelomyelitis in inbred and outbred mice. J. Immunol. 110, 139-143.

Levy R. P., McGuire W. L., Shaw R. K., and Bartsch G. E. (1965) Effect of species differences of mice on the bioassay of thyrotropin. Endocrinol. 76, 890-894.

Lieberman J. and Kellog F. (1967) Hyaline-membrane formation and pulmonary plasminogen-activator activity in various strains of mice. Pediatrics 39, 75-81.

Lindsey J. W. (1996) Characteristics of initial and reinduced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Immunogenet. 44, 292-297.

Lopez C. (1975) Genetics of natural resistance to herpes virus infections in mice. Nature 258, 152-153.

Lynch C. J. (1969) The so-called Swiss Mouse. Lab. Anim. Care 19, 214-220.

Marks M. J., Stitzel J. A., and Collins A. C. (1989) Genetic influences on nicotine responses. Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 33, 667-678.

Meier H. and MacPike A. D. (1968) Levels and heritability of serum ceruloplasmin activity in inbred strains of mice. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 128, 1185-1190.

Nabors G. S. and Farrell J. P. (1994) Site-specific immunity to Leishmania major in SWR mice: The site of infection influences susceptibility and expression of the antileishmanial immune response. Infect. Immun. 62, 3655-3662.

Nicholson S. M., Jokinen D. M., Dal Canto M. C., Kim B. S., and Melvold R. W. (1995) Genetic analysis of susceptibility to Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus-induced demyelinating disease in the SWR strain. J. Neuroimmunol. 59, 19-28.

Oldstone M. B. A. and Dixon F. J. (1968) Susceptibility of different mouse strains to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. J. Immunol. 100, 355-357.

Ortman R. A., Holderbaum D., Qu X. M., Banerjee S., and Haqqi T. M. (1994) BUB/BnJ (H-2(q)) is a TCR deletion mutant mouse strain (TCR Vbetaa, KJ16- ) that is susceptible to type II collagen-induced arthritis. J. Immunol. 152, 4175-4182.

Osman G. E., Jacobson D. P., Li S. W., Hood L. E., Liggitt H. D., and Ladiges W. C. (1997) SWR: An inbred strain suitable for generating transgenic mice. Lab. Animal Sci. 47, 167-171.

Panthier J. J., Gounon P., Condamine H., and Jacob F. (1989) Pattern of expression of ecotropic murine leukemia virus in gonads of inoculated SWR/J mice. J. Virol. 63, 2134-2142.

Rabstein L. S., Peters R. L., and Spahn G. J. (1973) Spontaneous tumors and pathologic lesions in SWR/J mice. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 50, 751-758.

Roderick T. H., Wimer R. E., Wimer C. C., and Schwartzkroin P. A. (1973) Genetic and phenotypic variation in weight of brain and spinal cord between inbred strains of mice. Brain Res. 64, 345-353.

Royce J. R. (1972) Avoidance conditioning in nine strains of inbred mice using optimal stimulus parameters. Behav. Genet. 2, 107-110.

Rubinstein P., Liu N., Strenn E. W., and Decary F. (1974) Electrophoretic mobility and agglutinability of red blood cells: a `new' polymorphism in mice. J. Exp. Med. 139, 313-322.

Russell E. S. and Meier H. (1966) Constitutional diseases, in Biology of the Laboratory Mouse, 2nd. ed. (Green E. L., ed), pp. 571-587. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Schlager G. and Dickie M. M. (1967) Spontaneous mutations and mutation rates in the house mouse. Genetics 57, 319-330.

Smith B. K., West D. B., and York D. A. (1997) Carbohydrate versus fat intake: Differing patterns of macronutrient selection in two inbred mouse strains. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 41, R357-R362.

Southwick C. H. and Clark L. H. (1966) Aggressive behaviour and exploratory activity in fourteen mouse strains. Am. Zool. 6, 559.

Southwick C. H. and Clark L. H. (1968) Interstrain differences in aggressive behaviour and exploratory activity of inbred mice. Commun. Behav. Biol. Part A 1, 49-59.

Stasik J. H. (1970) Inheritance of T-maze learning in mice. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 71, 251-257.

Stephenson J. R., Reynolds R. K., Tronick S. R., and Aaronson S. A. (1975) Distribution of three classes of endogenous type-C RNA viruses among inbred strains of mice. Virology 67, 404-414.

Storer J. B. (1966) Longevity and gross pathology at death in 22 inbred strains of mice. J. Gerontol. 21, 404-409.

Storer J. B. (1967) Relation of lifespan to brain weight, body weight and metabolic rate among inbred mouse strains. Exp. Gerontol. 2, 173-182.

Taylor B. A. (1972) Genetic relationship between inbred strains of mice. J. Hered. 63, 83-86.

Thomas P. E., Hutton J. J., and Taylor B. A. (1973) Genetic relationship between aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase inducibility and chemical carcinogen induced skin ulceration in mice. Genetics 74, 655-659.

Tsubura A., Senzaki H., Oyaizu T., Fujita Y., and Morii S. (1993) Strain differences in neoplastic response to DMBA-induced uterine vascular tumors in mice. International Journal of Oncology 2, 927-930.

Vaz N. M., Phillips-Quagliata J. M., Levine B. B., and Vaz E. M. (1971) H-2 linked genetic control of immune responsiveness to ovalbumin and ovomucoid. J. Exp. Med. 134, 1335-1348.

Wakelin D. and Donachie A. M. (1980) Genetic control of immunity to parasites: adoptive transfer of immunity between inbred strains of mice characterized by rapid and slow immune expulsion of Trichinella spiralis. Parasite Immunol. 2, 249-260.

West D. B., Boozer C. N., Moody D. L., and Atkinson R. L. (1992) Dietary obesity in nine inbred mouse strains. Am. J. Physiol. 262, R1025-R1032.

Yuhas J. M. and Storer J. B. (1969) On mouse strain differences in radiation resistance: hematopoietic death and the endogenous colony-forming unit. Radiation Res. 39, 608-622.

Yuhas J. M. (1968) The central nervous system syndrome of the mouse: effects of strain, age, and conditioning exposure. Radiation Res. 35, 714-721.

Zhang H., Yousef G. E., Ouyang X., and Archard L. C. (1994) Characterization of a murine model of myocarditis induced by a reactivated Coxsackievirus B3. International Journal of Experimental Pathology 75, 99-110.

Updated 9 Apr. 1998
Michael FW Festing
MRC Toxicology Unit, Hodgkin Building,
University of Leicester, UK

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