Use of humanized mice to study the pathogenesis of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases

Iurii Koboziev, Yava Jones-Hall, John F. Valentine, Cynthia Reinoso Webb, Kathryn L. Furr, Matthew B. Grisham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Animal models of disease have been used extensively by the research community for the past several decades to better understand the pathogenesis of different diseases and assess the efficacy and toxicity of different therapeutic agents. Retrospective analyses of numerous preclinical intervention studies using mouse models of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases reveal a generalized failure to translate promising interventions or therapeutics into clinically effective treatments in patients. Although several possible reasons have been suggested to account for this generalized failure to translate therapeutic efficacy from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the mouse immune system is substantially different from the human. Indeed, it is well known that >80 major differences exist between mouse and human immunology; all of which contribute to significant differences in immune system development, activation, and responses to challenges in innate and adaptive immunity. This inconvenient reality has prompted investigators to attempt to humanize the mouse immune system to address important human-specific questions that are impossible to study in patients. The successful long-term engraftment of human hematolymphoid cells in mice would provide investigators with a relatively inexpensive small animal model to study clinically relevant mechanisms and facilitate the evaluation of human-specific therapies in vivo. The discovery that targeted mutation of the IL-2 receptor common gamma chain in lymphopenic mice allows for the long-term engraftment of functional human immune cells has advanced greatly our ability to humanize the mouse immune system. The objective of this review is to present a brief overview of the recent advances that have been made in the development and use of humanized mice with special emphasis on autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. In addition, we discuss the use of these unique mouse models to define the human-specific immunopathological mechanisms responsible for the induction and perpetuation of chronic gut inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1652-1673
Number of pages22
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 19 2015


  • NK cells
  • NOD mice
  • SCID mice
  • allograft rejection
  • diabetes
  • fetal liver
  • fetal thymus
  • graft versus host disease
  • hematopoietic stem cells
  • human immune system
  • interleukin-2 common gamma receptor
  • rheumatoid arthritis


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