Virology, Nebraska Center for


Document Type


Date of this Version



J. Vis. Exp. (150), e59773


HHS Public Access

doi: 10.3791/59773


Humanized mice (hu-mice) that feature a functional human immune system have fundamentally changed the study of human pathogens and disease. They can be used to model diseases that are otherwise difficult or impossible to study in humans or other animal models. The gut microbiome can have a profound impact on human health and disease. However, the murine gut microbiome is very different than the one found in humans. There is a need for improved pre-clinical hu-mice models that have an engrafted human gut microbiome. Therefore, we created double hu-mice that feature both a human immune system and stable human-like gut microbiome. NOD.Cg-PrkdcscidIl2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ (NSG) mice are one of the best animals for humanization due to their high level of immunodeficiency. However, germ-free NSG mice, and various other important germ-free mice models are not currently commercially available. Further, many research settings do not have access to gnotobiotic facilities, and working under gnotobiotic conditions can often be expensive and time consuming. Importantly, germ-free mice have several immune deficiencies that exist even after the engraftment of microbes. Therefore, we developed a protocol that does not require germ-free animals or gnotobiotic facilities. To generate double hu-mice, NSG mice were treated with radiation prior to surgery to create bone-marrow, liver, thymus-humanized (hu-BLT) mice. The mice were then treated with broad spectrum antibiotics to deplete the pre-existing murine gut microbiome. After antibiotic treatment, the mice were given fecal transplants with healthy human donor samples via oral gavage. Double hu-BLT mice had unique 16S rRNA gene profiles based on the individual human donor sample that was transplanted. Importantly, the transplanted human-like microbiome was stable in the double hu-BLT mice for the duration of the study up to 14.5 weeks post-transplant.