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Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1204:45-58. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1346-6_5.

Reporter mice for the study of long-term effects of drugs and toxic compounds.

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Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan, Via G. Balzaretti 9, 20133, Milan, Italy.


Noninvasive, imaging-based methodologies provide for the first time the possibility to spatio-temporally investigate physiopathological events and long-term effects of drug administration of exposure to environmental and alimentary toxic compounds. Hence, this novel methodology could enable us to measure the dynamics of specific molecular pathways in live animals. In the last few years, animals, particularly mice, were genetically modified to respond to a specific stimulus with the production of proteins, named "reporters," that are easily detected and quantitated by in vivo and ex vivo imaging. These "reporter mice" are gradually being applied to the pharmaco-toxicological research. In the generation of a reporter mouse useful for pharmaco-toxicological studies several elements need to be considered in the selection of the reporter system: the half-life of proteins should be compatible with the necessities of the study to assess the onset and the termination of the stimulus of interest, in all tissues the response should be proportional to the given stimulus, and the imaging modalities requested for reporter measurements should be applicable to high-throughput screening. Bioluminescence-based imaging (BLI) in small animals has the advantage over other modalities that does not require too sophisticated equipment or specifically and highly trained personnel, and furthermore may be carried out at a relative rapidity and low cost; for these reasons several luciferases have been developed for in vivo imaging applications and used in the generation of reporter mice. We here describe a BLI-based reporter mouse created to respond to estrogenic stimuli, which has been applied to the study of female physiopathology as well as for the identification of the effects of selective drugs or toxic compounds present in the environment and in the alimentary chain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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