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Table 1 An overview of animal models for translational studies for human immunology

From: Advanced model systems and tools for basic and translational human immunology

Model system Advantages Disadvantages Suggested model use Translatability Environmental factors
Conventional inbred, wildtype, and knock-out mice • Consistency
• Widely available
• Cost
• Easy to handle
• Poorly represent many human diseases Fundamental immunology, pre-clinical work in some cases + Co-housing and diet may impact microbiota
Next-generation mice (humanized through genetic and/or tissue engineering) • More potential for translation to humans
• Many immunologic reagents
• Easy to handle
• More expensive than conventional mice
• Partial humanization means murine components can be confounding factors
Single-organ infections, such as liver cancer, especially metastasis; individual aspects of an immune response, such as Ig or HLA loci ++ Similar factors to conventional mice
Nonhuman primates (NHP) • Human-like model
• Many immunologic reagents
• Limited MHC (certain species)
• Larger MHC than humans (most species)
• Expensive
• Ethical concerns
HIV, tuberculosis, many arthropod-borne viruses ++/+++ Typically not co-housed, but length in colony may impact response to perturbations
Other animal models May model particular diseases more accurately than mice or NHP Reagents limited or non-existent Non-immunologic disease models, transmission studies (e.g., ferrets for influenza transmission studies recapitulate many features of human infection) Up to +++ Many, as typically are not bred for research
  1. Translatability (from weak (+) to strong (+++)) refers to the relative frequency of successfully identifying an immune phenomenon in the model system that closely mimics the relevant disease or condition in humans
  2. HLA human leukocyte antigen, Ig immunoglobulin, MHC major histocompatibility complex