The lab mice, are kept and created in a clean environment, and that can be influencing the immune system studies. We all know that the labs are very clean and sterile environments, which is good for the samples and scientists, but it seems not for the mice we use on studies about the immune system, since no human is kept in such a clean environment in real life.
The human’s immune system, is exposed throughout life to multiple pathogens, that help the system to tune itself up, and we even used that fact, to create better and new vaccines, and study how the microorganisms influence our health.
Like ours, the mouse immune systems are also influenced by the environment, and researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are drawing attention to this fact.
“Experimentation in mice has promoted an explosion of knowledge in immunology and other biomedical fields”, write the immunologists Tiffany Reese and Lili Tao.
“Despite the significant advances, we have made in understanding the immune system from mouse studies, there is increasing concern over the utility of mouse models”.
Adding this to the fact that the mice are usually bred in extremely clean conditions, creates margin for errors in results of the immune system field, explain the researchers.
Basically, if we use results of such a study with this kind of mice, and then try to apply them to humans, naturally we run into discrepancies, because we don’t grow up in sterile conditions. For example, if lab mice aren’t exposed to murine cytomegalovirus (common in wild mice), their immune responses obviously change and to a point where they are able to survive other bacteria that normally would be lethal to them.
“These pathogens likely represent components of the mouse microbiome, and may influence many aspects of mouse physiology in important ways”, explains the team.
So, one thing if for certain, we have to have a better alternative than lab mice in these kind of studies, and have to work our way to abandon studies with animals.