BLT-Immune Humanized Mice as a Model for Nivolumab-Induced Immune-Mediated Adverse Events: Comparison of the NOG and NOG-EXL Strains

James L. Weaver, Leah M. Zadrozny, Kathleen L Gabrielson, Kenrick M. Semple, Katherine I. Shea, Kristina E. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Checkpoint inhibitors represent a new class of therapeutics in the treatment of cancer that has demonstrated remarkable clinical effectiveness. However, some patients have experienced serious immune-mediated adverse effects including pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, nephritis, dermatitis, encephalitis, and adrenal or pituitary insufficiency. These adverse events were not predicted by nonclinical studies. To determine if bone marrow-liver-thymus (BLT) immune humanized mice could demonstrate these adverse effects, we studied the effect of nivolumab on 2 strains of BLT-humanized mice, NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Sug/JicTac (NOG) and NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Sug Tg(SV40/HTLV-IL3, CSF2)10-7Jic/JicTac (NOG-EXL). Mice were treated with 2.5, 5.0, or 10.0 mg/kg nivolumab or saline twice weekly for 28 days. BLT-NOG mice had significantly reduced survival compared with BLT-NOG-EXL mice. In spite of the difference in survival, both BLT-humanized strains showed adverse reactions similar to those reported in humans, including pneumonitis and hepatitis, with nephritis, dermatitis and adrenalitis also noted in some individuals. Additional histopathologic findings included pancreatic atrophy, myositis, and osteomyelitis in some animals. T-cell activation increased with concomitant loss of PD-1 detection. These findings show that BLT immune humanized mice can demonstrate immune-mediated adverse effects of antiPD1 therapy, and may represent a model that can be used to better understand toxicity of this class of drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-208
Number of pages15
JournalToxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • checkpoint inhibitor
  • chronic
  • histopathology
  • immune humanized mice
  • immunotoxicity
  • pharmaceuticals
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

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