The VitDAL lab is actively researching how vitamin D metabolites influence the immune response. In order to allow us to examine in great detail how vitamin D modulates the immune system, we use murine models in some of our experiments when our other study systems, such as client owned cats and dogs or farm animal populations, do not allow us to address key biological questions. However, when we need to utilise murine models in order to answer important research questions, we are deeply committed to playing an important role in improving the welfare of mice used in laboratory experiments wherever possible. Our latest study describes how our recently described model of bone marrow derived dendritic cells driven autoimmunity is capable of driving an autopathogenic T cell response but does so without the damaging local side effects which can occur when traditional methods are used, such as immunisation with autoantigens alongside powerful adjuvants such as complete freund’s adjuvant (CFA). As you can see in the figures below, the administration of the dendritic cells causes very little local inflammation compared to CFA administration which causes a dramatic local inflammatory response. We hope that our model, if widely adopted, has the potential to dramatically improve the welfare of mice used in autoimmune research. Our paper can be found at the link below.
Image on left shows muscle and skin from mouse administered bone marrow dendritic cells with the image on the right showing marked inflammation in the muscle post CFA administration