Laboratory strains of mice are typically housed in specific pathogen–free facilities to minimize exposure to microbes. This method encourages uniformity in responses to experimentally induced parameters and reduces loss of animals, allowing for the survival and study of immunodeficient mice. However, the restrictions also limit physiologic relevance to humans, who are exposed to numerous microbes from birth. Recent evidence from several groups has demonstrated that exposure of laboratory mice to commensal and pathogenic microbes normally found in wild or pet store mice can dramatically impact the cellular makeup and function of the immune system. This article outlines procedures for exposing laboratory strains of mice to the diverse array of microbes typically found in pet store mice. Suggested methods for characterization of the immune system following this exposure are also described.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (AI116678 to SEH). We gratefully acknowledge the pioneering work of Drs. David Masopust, Stephen Jameson, and Lalit Beura in the initial generation and characterization of “dirty mice” that led to these protocols. We also thank the essential support provided by research animal resources and BSL‐3 facility staff at the University of Minnesota.
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- T cells
- microbial diversity
- mouse model