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Blood. 2014 Jan 16;123(3):346-55. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-06-508861. Epub 2013 Nov 6.

An animal model of adult T-cell leukemia: humanized mice with HTLV-1-specific immunity.

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Department of Microbiology, Kansai Medical University, Hirakata, Osaka, Japan.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is causally associated with adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), an aggressive T-cell malignancy with a poor prognosis. To elucidate ATL pathogenesis in vivo, a variety of animal models have been established; however, the mechanisms driving this disorder remain poorly understood due to deficiencies in each of these animal models. Here, we report a novel HTLV-1-infected humanized mouse model generated by intra-bone marrow injection of human CD133(+) stem cells into NOD/Shi-scid/IL-2Rγc null (NOG) mice (IBMI-huNOG mice). Upon infection, the number of CD4(+) human T cells in the periphery increased rapidly, and atypical lymphocytes with lobulated nuclei resembling ATL-specific flower cells were observed 4 to 5 months after infection. Proliferation was seen in both CD25(-) and CD25(+) CD4 T cells with identical proviral integration sites; however, a limited number of CD25(+)-infected T-cell clones eventually dominated, indicating an association between clonal selection of infected T cells and expression of CD25. Additionally, HTLV-1-specific adaptive immune responses were induced in infected mice and might be involved in the control of HTLV-1-infected cells. Thus, the HTLV-1-infected IBMI-huNOG mouse model successfully recapitulated the development of ATL and may serve as an important tool for investigating in vivo mechanisms of ATL leukemogenesis and evaluating anti-ATL drug and vaccine candidates.

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