Summary: Animal models of colitis are invaluable to ulcerative colitis (and more broadly, IBD) research, both in helping to elucidate potential disease mechanisms and in the process of testing and approving new therapies. A huge variety of mouse models of colitis have been developed, but they can be grouped into just a few categories based on the mechanism of disease induction, and a small handful of models are the most widely used by far.
Despite the importance of these models, no animal model yet exists that is an accurate mimic of human ulcerative colitis, and therefore each particular model and its limitations must be taken into account both when deciding which model to use and when drawing conclusions based on the findings.
This article is linked in the IBD Index as a special topic. Last updated on April 20, 2022.
Much of what we know about the etiology of ulcerative colitis (UC) comes from animal research, and we owe all of our current UC therapies to the intensive drug-approval process that begins with preclinical animal studies.
Models of colitis have been developed for many different lab animals from fruit flies (really) to pigs, but since mouse models are by far the most common, we’ll focus on those.
A semantic note: If you read any UC research in mice, you’ll notice that the term “ulcerative colitis” isn’t used to describe what’s happening in the mice; the more general term “colitis” is used instead. That’s because while the mice are exhibiting inflammation of the colon (ie, colitis), it’s not accurate to liken it to human ulcerative colitis. So yes, the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer. More on this below.[Read more…] about Mouse Models of Ulcerative Colitis: What Can They Really Tell Us?