Relevance of systemic lupus erythematosus nephritis animal models to human disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by spontaneous B and T cell autoreactivity and multiorgan immune injury including severe glomerulonephritis. This autoimmune syndrome results from a global derangement in immune regulation dependent on the interaction of complex genetic and environmental susceptibility factors. Animal models have provided a powerful tool to study disease mechanisms and novel therapeutic interventions under well-defined conditions, and bypass the barriers inherent in the study of human lupus. Classical models of spontaneous and investigator-induced murine lupus, their mutant variants, and novel transgenic and gene-targeted mutant lineages have been particularly useful. Extensive genome typing in inbred and recombinant lupus-prone strains permits mapping and characterization of multiple lupus susceptibility loci and genes and their contribution to various disease phenotypes. Murine models provide important insight into the identity of targeted self-antigens, the molecules and pathways that maintain tolerance, immune cell and cytokine interactions that promote autoimmunity, and mechanisms of renal localization and injury by immune effectors. These models reveal that multiple and independent mechanisms contribute to disease pathogenesis and provide a better understanding of the remarkable phenotypic and histopathologic heterogeneity that characterizes human SLE.
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