Humanization of Immunodeficient Animals for the Modeling of Transplantation, Graft Versus Host Disease, and Regenerative Medicine

Transplantation. 2020 Nov;104(11):2290-2306. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000003177.


The humanization of animals is a powerful tool for the exploration of human disease pathogenesis in biomedical research, as well as for the development of therapeutic interventions with enhanced translational potential. Humanized models enable us to overcome biologic differences that exist between humans and other species, while giving us a platform to study human processes in vivo. To become humanized, an immune-deficient recipient is engrafted with cells, tissues, or organoids. The mouse is the most well studied of these hosts, with a variety of immunodeficient strains available for various specific uses. More recently, efforts have turned to the humanization of other animal species such as the rat, which offers some technical and immunologic advantages over mice. These advances, together with ongoing developments in the incorporation of human transgenes and additional mutations in humanized mouse models, have expanded our opportunities to replicate aspects of human allotransplantation and to assist in the development of immunotherapies. In this review, the immune and tissue humanization of various species is presented with an emphasis on their potential for use as models for allotransplantation, graft versus host disease, and regenerative medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host / genetics*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / genetics*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / therapy
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Rats, Transgenic
  • Regenerative Medicine*
  • Species Specificity
  • Stem Cell Transplantation