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Clin Exp Allergy. 2007 Jul;37(7):973-88.

Animal models of asthma.

Author information

1
Division of Clinical Sciences, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, Western Australia. gremez@ichr.uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Animal models of asthma are a tool that allows studies to be conducted in the setting of an intact immune and respiratory system. These models have highlighted the importance of T-helper type 2 driven allergic responses in the progression of asthma and have been useful in the identification of potential drug targets for interventions involving allergic pathways. However, a number of drugs that have been shown to have some efficacy in animal models of asthma have shown little clinical benefit in human asthmatics. This may be due to a number of factors including the species of animal chosen and the methods used to induce an asthmatic phenotype in animals that do not normally develop a disease that could be characterized as asthma. The range of animal models available is vast, with the most popular models being rodents (inbred mice and rats) and guinea-pigs, which have the benefit of being easy to handle and being relatively cost effective compared with other models that are available. The recent advances in transgenic technology and the development of species-specific probes, particularly in mice, have allowed detailed mechanistic studies to be conducted. Despite these advances in technology, there are a number of issues with current animal models of asthma that must be recognized including the disparity in immunology and anatomy between these species and humans, the requirement for adjuvant during senitization in most models, the acute nature of the allergic response that is induced and the use of adult animals as the primary disease model. Some larger animal models using sheep and dogs have been developed that may address some of these issues but they also have different biology from humans in many ways and are extremely costly, with very few probes available for characterizing allergic responses in the airway in these species. As research in this area continues to expand, the relative merits and limitations of each model must be defined and understood in order to evaluate the information that is obtained from these models and to extrapolate these findings to humans so that effective drug therapies can be developed. Despite these issues, animal models have been, and will continue to be, vital in understanding the mechanisms that are involved in the development and progression of asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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