Hereditarily Athymic—Asplenic (Lasat) Mice

  • Kent L. Erickson
  • M. Eric Gershwin


Two major murine models congenitally lacking lymphoid organs have been described, i.e., the hereditarily asplenic mouse (Searle, 1959) and the congenitally athymic (nude) mouse (Flanagan, 1966). Since their discovery, both of these mutant lines have been used to greatly advance our understanding of the role of thymus and spleen in many immunologic phenomena. The nude mouse carries genes governing thymic agenesis and hairlessness that are either closely linked or identical and inherited as autosomal recessive. Although nude mice lack a well-developed, differentiated thymus, a large amount of experimental evidence now indicates that these mutant mice are not completely lacking lymphocytes with T-cell characteristics. Lymphocytes of nude mice, however, are devoid of critical T-cell functions. Examples of the latter include a lack of helper and cytotoxic T-cell activity, failure to mount a graft-versus-host response, inability to reject allo- and xenografts, a significantly reduced level of contact sensitization, and very little or no splenic and lymph node response to T-cell mitogens. Nude mice, however, appear to have an adequate number of T-cell precursors (Loor and Roelants, 1974; Roelants et al., 1976). In contrast, asplenia is inherited as autosomal dominant and is phenotypically identified by hemimelia, a major abnormality of the hind limbs. Thus, mice that carry the Dh gene for dominant hemimelia survive only when heterozygous. Mice that are homozygous (Dh/Dh) die within the first 3 days of the associated gastrointestinal anomalies and imperforate ani.


Nude Mouse Serum Immunoglobulin Level Normal Littermate Paracortical Area Bladder Transitional Cell Carcinoma 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kent L. Erickson
    • 1
  • M. Eric Gershwin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human AnatomySchool of Medicine, University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Section of Rheumatology-Clinical ImmunologySchool of Medicine, University of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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