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Of Mice and Not Men: Differences between Mouse and Human Immunology

Mice are the experimental tool of choice for the majority of immunologists and the study of their immune responses has yielded tremendous insight into the workings of the human immune system. However, as 65 million years of evolution might suggest, there are significant differences. Here we outline known discrepancies in both innate and adaptive immunity, including: balance of leukocyte subsets, defensins, Toll receptors, inducible NO synthase, the NK inhibitory receptor families Ly49 and KIR, FcR, Ig subsets, the B cell (BLNK, Btk, and λ5) and T cell (ZAP70 and common γ-chain) signaling pathway components, Thy-1, γδ T cells, cytokines and cytokine receptors, Th1/Th2 differentiation, costimulatory molecule expression and function, Ag-presenting function of endothelial cells, and chemokine and chemokine receptor expression. We also provide examples, such as multiple sclerosis and delayed-type hypersensitivity, where complex multicomponent processes differ. Such differences should be taken into account when using mice as preclinical models of human disease.

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