The benefits and limitations of animal models for translational research in neurodegenerative diseases

Nat Med. 2010 Nov;16(11):1210-4. doi: 10.1038/nm.2224. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


Age-related neurodegenerative diseases are largely limited to humans and rarely occur spontaneously in animals. Genetically engineered mouse models recapitulate aspects of the corresponding human diseases and are instrumental in studying disease mechanisms and testing therapeutic strategies. If considered within the range of their validity, mouse models have been predictive of clinical outcome. Translational failure is less the result of the incomplete nature of the models than of inadequate preclinical studies and misinterpretation of the models. This commentary summarizes current models and highlights key questions we should be asking about animal models, as well as questions that cannot be answered with the current models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*