Use of nude mice in immunology and oncology

Studies of T cell differentiation and host defense mechanisms

The lack of a thymus has rendered the nude mouse a good model for the study of T cell differentiation. Analysis of T cells present in nude mice reveals the characteristics of T cells differentiating along extrathymic pathways. Thymus-grafted nude mice are useful for studying the roles of thymic components in T cell differentiation. The nude mouse also provides a model for studying host defense mechanisms against microbial infection and tumors. Inoculation of Mycobacterium leprae into the paws of nude mice has produced a disease very similar to human leprosy in many of its symptoms. Treatment with chemotherapeutic agents of nude mice affected by leprosy has given essentially the same results obtained with such agents in humans. Accordingly, the nude mouse has proved to be a valuable model for the study of experimental chemotherapy of leprosy in humans.

Growth of transplants of normal and neoplastic tissues

Although an appreciable level of functional T cells and an increased level of NK activity are detected in nude mice, these mice show an inability to reject alio- and xenografts. Therefore, nude mice have been used as recipients of normal tissues and for the expansion of various tumor cell lines, as well as for the maintenance of hybridomas for monoclonal antibody production. Skin from other species has been grafted successfully and remained viable indefinitely. All skin grafts survived and continued to perform their normal functions such as hair and feather growth, production of sebum, and renewal of epithelium. Tumors developing in other species, especially humans, have been inoculated into nude mice. Anatomical structure at both the macro- and microscopic levels is well preserved and the grafted tumor is generally indistinguishable from the structure of the tumor in the patients. Secretion of hormones in secretory tumors and production of other biological substances is maintained. Human tumors growing in nude mice produce metastases, albeit not frequently. Therefore, nude mice have been an invaluable tool for characterizing tumors and establishing the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of a drug on a specific tumor.

See also: Thymic epithelium: potential role in regulatory T cell tolerance; Hu-SCID mice; Immunodeficiency, animal models; T cell receptor, ap; T cell receptor, y8; Thymus; T lymphocyte differentiation; T lymphocytes; Tolerance, peripheral.

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