Several rodent models have been proposed for various forms of systemic vasculitis. The MRL-Ipr mouse has been studied extensively as a model for systemic lupus erythematosus. Backcross experiments in combination with genetic linkage studies have firmly established that the phenotype of autoimmune disease is dependent on the combination of various background genes. It has also become apparent that environmental factors, particularly infections, modulate the disease phenotype. Specific interventions, such as the treatment of Brown Norway rats with agents resulting in polyclonal B cell stimulation or immunization with human myeloperoxidase and subsequent localized perfusion with neutrophil lysosomal extract and H2O2, have provided substantial insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to the development of vasculitis and glomerulonephritis. Even though the existing models may not exactly mirror any specific human disease, they offer reproducible, highly controlled conditions to answer specific questions about pathogenesis and novel therapeutic approaches.
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