Author(s): Andrews AG
A spontaneous, severely pruritic ulcerative dermatitis was initially observed in 33/201 (16.4%) aged C57BL/6NNia mice obtained from the National Institute of Aging. This ulcerative dermatitis also developed in 21/98 (21%) aged C57BL/6 mice in a subsequent experimental group obtained from the same source. The average age of onset in the initial group was 20 months. These animals were negative for ectoparasite infestation and primary bacterial or fungal infection. The lesions varied from acute epidermal excoriation and ulceration to chronic ulceration with marked dermal fibrosis. In the affected animals, leukocytoclastic vasculitis was present in the dermis in both areas of ulceration and areas covered by normal intact epidermis. Immunofluorescent staining of the skin was positive for deposition of IgG, IgM, and fibrinogen in the dermal vessels of the affected mice. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis was not observed in unaffected animals, nor were deposits of immunoglobulin or fibrinogen present in the skin of the control animals. This study provides strong evidence that the ulcerative dermatitis is caused by an immune complex-induced vasculitis. The elucidation of the pathogenesis of this disease is important because of the significant percentage of animals affected and because the C57BL/6 mouse may be a useful model to study human vasculitides.