The Role of Animal Models in the Study of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation and GvHD: A Historical Overview

Front Immunol. 2016 Aug 30:7:333. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00333. eCollection 2016.


Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is the only therapeutic option for many hematological malignancies, but its applicability is limited by life-threatening complications, such as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). The last decades have seen great advances in the understanding of BMT and its related complications; in particular GvHD. Animal models are beneficial to study complex diseases, as they allow dissecting the contribution of single components in the development of the disease. Most of the current knowledge on the therapeutic mechanisms of BMT derives from studies in animal models. Parallel to BMT, the understanding of the pathophysiology of GvHD, as well as the development of new treatment regimens, has also been supported by studies in animal models. Pre-clinical experimentation is the basis for deep understanding and successful improvements of clinical applications. In this review, we retrace the history of BMT and GvHD by describing how the studies in animal models have paved the way to the many advances in the field. We also describe how animal models contributed to the understanding of GvHD pathophysiology and how they are fundamental for the discovery of new treatments.

Keywords: HSCT; aGvHD; animal models; cGvHD; pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Review