Embracing microbial exposure in mouse research

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23 Scopus citations


Research using mouse models have contributed essential knowledge toward our current understanding of how the human immune system functions. One key difference between humans and typical laboratory mice, however, is exposure to pathogens in their respective environments. Several recent studies have highlighted that these microbial encounters shape the development and functional status of the immune system. For humans, such numerous and unavoidable encounters with viruses, bacteria, and parasites may be a defining factor in generating a healthy and robust immune system, poised to respond to new infections and to vaccination. Additionally, the commensal organisms that make up the host microbiome also change with environment and impact the immune response. Hence, there is a pressing need to generate more faithful mouse models that reflect the natural state of the human immune system. This review explores the use of new experimental mouse models designed to better understand how host-microbial interactions shape the immune response. By embracing these technologies to complement traditional mouse models, researchers can remove a significant barrier that has long separated murine and human immunologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (United

Funding Information:
M.A.H. and S.E.H. drafted the manuscript. M.A.H. created the figures. S.C.J. edited the manuscript and gave feedback on the revision. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (United States) Grant AI116678.

Publisher Copyright:
©2018 Society for Leukocyte Biology

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • host-pathogen interactions
  • immune response
  • microbiome
  • mouse models


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