Can mice be trusted?

Katharina Frisch ‘Mouse and man’

I started this blog with an post on a PNAS paper which at that time had received a lot of attention in the scientific community and lay press. In this article, Seok et al. argued that ‘genomic responses in mouse models poorly mimic human inflammatory diseases‘. With this post I am returning to this article, as I recently was asked by the Journal STROKE to contribute to their ‘Controversies in Stroke’ series. The Seok article had disturbed the Stroke community, so a pro/con discussion seemed timely. In the upcoming issue of STROKE Sharp and Jickling will argue that ‘the peripheral inflammatory response in rodent ischemic stroke models is different than in human stroke. Given the important role of the immune system in stroke, this could be a major handicap in translating results in rodent stroke models to clinical trials in patients with stroke.‘ This is of course true! Nevertheless, I counter by providing some examples of translational successes regarding stroke and the immune system, and conclude that ‘the physiology and pathophysiology of rodents is sufficiently similar to humans to make them a highly relevant model organism but also sufficiently different to mandate an awareness of potential resulting pitfalls. In any case, before hastily discarding highly relevant past, present, and future findings, experimental stroke research needs to improve dramatically its internal and external validity to overcome its apparent translational failures.’ For an in depth treatment, follow the debate:

Article: Dirnagl: Can mice be trusted

Article: Sharp Jickling: Differences between mice and humans

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