Lupus is an autoimmune disease with a poorly understood etiology that manifests with a diverse pathology. This heterogeneity has been a challenge to clinical drug development efforts. A related difficulty is the uncertain translational power of animal models used for evaluating potential drug targets and candidate therapeutics, because it is unlikely that any 1 preclinical model will recapitulate the spectrum of human disease. Therefore, multiple models, along with an understanding of the immune mechanisms that drive them, are necessary if we are to use them to identify valid drug targets and evaluate candidate therapies successfully. To this end, we have characterized several different mouse lupus models and report their differences with respect to biomarkers and symptoms that are representative of the human disease. We compared the pristane-induced mouse lupus disease model using 3 different strains (DBA/1, SJL, BALB/c), and the spontaneous NZB x NZW F1(NZB/W) mouse model. We show that the models differ significantly in their autoantibody profiles, disease manifestations such as nephritis and arthritis, and expression of type I interferon-regulated genes. Similar to the NZB/W model, pristane-induced disease in SJL mice manifests with nephritis and proteinuria, whereas the pristane-treated DBA/1 mice develop arthritis and an interferon-driven gene signature that closely resembles that in human patients. The elucidation of each model's strengths and the identification of translatable biomarkers yields insight for basic lupus research and drug development, and should assist in the proper selection of models for evaluating candidate targets and therapeutic strategies.
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