Immune Relevant and Immune Deficient Mice: Options and Opportunities in Translational Research

ILAR J. 2018 Dec 31;59(3):211-246. doi: 10.1093/ilar/ily026.


In 1989 ILAR published a list and description of immunodeficient rodents used in research. Since then, advances in understanding of molecular mechanisms; recognition of genetic, epigenetic microbial, and other influences on immunity; and capabilities in manipulating genomes and microbiomes have increased options and opportunities for selecting mice and designing studies to answer important mechanistic and therapeutic questions. Despite numerous scientific breakthroughs that have benefitted from research in mice, there is debate about the relevance and predictive or translational value of research in mice. Reproducibility of results obtained from mice and other research models also is a well-publicized concern. This review summarizes resources to inform the selection and use of immune relevant mouse strains and stocks, aiming to improve the utility, validity, and reproducibility of research in mice. Immune sufficient genetic variations, immune relevant spontaneous mutations, immunodeficient and autoimmune phenotypes, and selected induced conditions are emphasized.

Keywords: biomedical research; experimental conditions; genetic background; genetic variation; immune system diseases; inbred strains; mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genetic Variation
  • Immune System / immunology
  • Mice
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*