Modeling asthma: Pitfalls, promises, and the road ahead

J Leukoc Biol. 2018 Jul;104(1):41-48. doi: 10.1002/JLB.3MR1117-436R. Epub 2018 Feb 16.


Asthma is a chronic, heterogeneous, and recurring inflammatory disease of the lower airways, with exacerbations that feature airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Asthma has been modeled extensively via disease induction in both wild-type and genetically manipulated laboratory mice (Mus musculus). Antigen sensitization and challenge strategies have reproduced numerous important features of airway inflammation characteristic of human asthma, notably the critical roles of type 2 T helper cell cytokines. Recent models of disease induction have advanced to include physiologic aeroallergens with prolonged respiratory challenge without systemic sensitization; others incorporate tobacco, respiratory viruses, or bacteria as exacerbants. Nonetheless, differences in lung size, structure, and physiologic responses limit the degree to which airway dynamics measured in mice can be compared to human subjects. Other rodent allergic airways models, including those featuring the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) might be considered for lung function studies. Finally, domestic cats (Feline catus) and horses (Equus caballus) develop spontaneous obstructive airway disorders with clinical and pathologic features that parallel human asthma. Information on pathogenesis and treatment of these disorders is an important resource.

Keywords: airways; eosinophils; inflammation; leukocytes; veterinary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans