SCID Mice as a Model for Human Leukemias

  • Alessandra Cesano
  • Daniela Santoli
Part of the Medical Intelligence Unit book series (MIU.LANDES)


The murine severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mutation, first reported in 1983 by Bosma and coworkers,1 affects a component of the recombinase system used in common by T and B lymphocytes to assemble the genes that code for the variable regions of antigen receptors.2–4 As a result, SCID mice are severely deficient in T-cell receptor (TCR)- and immunoglobulin receptor (IgR)-bearing lymphocytes, lack serum Ig, do not respond to immunologic in vitro assays testing for B- or T-cell function, and histopathologically, show severe lymphopenia in all lymphoid tissues.1 Despite the impairment in Band T-lymphocyte differentiation, SCID mice have normal natural killer (NK) cell function, and their hematopoietic microenvironment is intact as it contains normally functioning antigen-presenting cells and is able to promote the differentiation of normal stem cells into functionally competent T and B lymphocytes.1,5–7 Because of these characteristics, SCID mice have been excellent models for the propagation of human xenografts, superior to and more convenient than regular or splenectomized nude mice. The recognition that SCID mice are able to support the growth of human cells has led to a blooming of literature on the construction of SCID mouse-human chimeras. While the usefulness of the SCID mouse for studying murine and human hematopoiesis is addressed in other sections of this book, this chapter deals exclusively with the engraftment of human leukemias in this model system. Prior to the discovery of SCID mice, transfer of primary patient leukemia cells or established leukemic cell lines into nude mice had resulted in either engraftment failure, or in some cases, in the production of myelosarcomas, localized solid tumors, or ascites, all of which do not reflect the normal course of the disease in humans.8–16


U937 Cell Acute Myelogenous Leukemia SCID Mouse Human Leukemia Severe Combine Immunodeficiency 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandra Cesano
  • Daniela Santoli

There are no affiliations available

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