New insights into the immune system using dirty mice

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The mouse (Mus musculus) is the dominant organism used to investigate the mechanisms behind complex immunological responses because of their genetic similarity to humans and our ability to manipulate those genetics to understand downstream function. Indeed, our knowledge of immune system development, response to infection, and ways to therapeutically manipulate the immune response to combat disease were, in large part, delineated in the mouse. Despite the power of mouse-based immunology research, the translational efficacy of many new therapies from mouse to human is far from ideal. Recent data have highlighted how the naive, neonate-like immune system of specific pathogen–free mice differs dramatically in composition and function to mice living under barrier-free conditions (i.e., “dirty” mice). In this review, we discuss major findings to date and challenges faced when using dirty mice and specific areas of immunology research that may benefit from using animals with robust and varied microbial exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants AI116678 (to S.E.H.), AI147064 (to V.P.B.), and AI084913 (to D.M.); National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grants GM134880 (to V.P.B.) and GM115462 (to T.S.G.); and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review Award I01BX001324 (to T.S.G.).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright Ó 2020 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. 0022-1767/20/$37.50

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review


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