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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2008 Mar;294(3):L387-98. Epub 2007 Dec 27.

Animal models of human pneumonia.

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Molecular and Integerative Physiological Sciences Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, 665 Huntington Ave., Building I Rm. 301, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Pneumonia is a medical and public health priority, and advances against this disease will require improved knowledge of biological mechanisms. Human pneumonia is modeled with experimental infections of animals, most frequently mice. Mouse models are leading to important discoveries relevant to pneumonia, but their limitations must be carefully considered. Several approaches to establishing pneumonia in mice have been developed, and each has specific strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, procedures for characterizing microbial and host responses to infection have unique advantages and disadvantages. Mice are not small humans, and the applicability of results from murine models to human disease depends on understanding the similarities and differences between species. Additional considerations such as mouse strain, microbe strain, and prior mouse-microbe interactions also influence the design and interpretation of experiments. Results from studies of pneumonia in animals, combined with complementary basic and translational studies, are elucidating mechanisms responsible for susceptibility to and pathophysiology of lung infection.

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