Humanized Bone marrow/Liver/Thymus (BLT) mice recapitulate the mucosal transmission of HIV, permitting study of early events in HIV pathogenesis and evaluation of preexposure prophylaxis methods to inhibit HIV transmission. Human hematopoiesis is reconstituted in NOD-scid mice by implantation of human fetal liver and thymus tissue to generate human T cells plus intravenous injection of autologous liver-derived CD34(+) hematopoietic stem cells to engraft the mouse bone marrow. In side-by-side comparisons, we show that NOD-scid mice homozygous for a deletion of the IL-2Rγ-chain (NOD-scid IL-2Rγ(-/-)) are far superior to NOD-scid mice in both their peripheral blood reconstitution with multiple classes of human leukocytes (e.g., a mean of 182 versus 14 CD4(+) T cells per μl 12 weeks after CD34(+) injection) and their susceptibility to intravaginal HIV exposure (84% versus 11% viremic mice at 4 weeks). These results should speed efforts to obtain preclinical animal efficacy data for new HIV drugs and microbicides.
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