Infection and immunity

Humanized mice, a new model to study the influence of drug treatment on neonatal sepsis.

PMID 23439310


Bacterial infection with group B Streptococcus (GBS) represents a prominent threat to neonates and fetuses in the Western world, causing severe organ damage and even death. To improve current therapeutic strategies and to investigate new approaches, an appropriate in vivo model to study the immune response of a human immune system is needed. Therefore, we introduced humanized mice as a new model for GBS-induced sepsis. Humanized mice feature deficiencies similar to those found in neonates, such as lower immunoglobulin levels and myeloid cell dysfunction. Due to the husbandry in specific-pathogen-free (SPF) facilities, the human immune cells in these mice also exhibit a naive phenotype which mimics the conditions in fetuses/neonates. Following infection, cytokine release and leukocyte trafficking from the bone marrow to the lymphoid organ (spleen) and into the peritoneum (site of infection) as well as bacterial spreading and clearance were traceable in the humanized mice. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of betamethasone and indomethacin treatment using this novel sepsis model. Although both drugs are commonly used in perinatal care, little is known about their effects on the neonatal immune system. Treatment of infected humanized mice not only induced the reduction of human leukocytes in the spleen but also increased the bacterial load in all analyzed organs, including the brain, which did not show infiltration of live GBS in untreated controls. These studies demonstrate the utility of the humanized mice as a new model to study an immature human immune response during bacterial infection and allow the investigation of side effects induced by various treatments.