Infection models

Infection models are a major component of the microbiology research at the University of Leicester and to the LeMID Centre's strategic aim of improving our understanding of how host pathogens cause disease. These models includes in vivo, ex vivo, and in vitro models for testing key experimental hypotheses.

Replicating conditions of a human disease is a sophisticated process, that presents with limitations. Where possible research is carried out using in vitro techniques; however, the interaction of multiple systems in the human body during disease necessitates use of increasingly complex models of infection. A range of in vivo models, mainly mice and rats, has led to significant advancement in modern medicine. The use of ex vivo models, as exemplified by the research of our academics has the potential to reduce the need for in vivo models.

At the University of Leicester, we are committed to the 3Rs (replacement, refinement and reduction) a motive put in place in 1959 to reduce the use of animals in research.

You can find out about animal welfare and how animals contribute to research at this University at the pre-clinical research facility.

Impact of using infection models

Ex vivo

The use of tissue from an organism extracted from its normal environment

  • Whole or part organs 
  • Organ systems 

In vivo

Experimentation using a whole, living organism

In vitro

The study of tissues outside of the biological environment 

  • The effects of air pollution on respiratory cells. This model is fundamental to understanding how the environment affects the course of disease.
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae interacting with macrophages is studied through in vitro studies complimenting the work accomplished by Oggioni and colleague's ex vivo and in vivo pneumoniae modelling.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) is known to stimulate Macrophages and T cells but the defining factors of this disease is the signalling molecules produced by these immune cells. Techniques like qPCR are used to determine which molecules are being produced by these individual cells. In vitro models provide a platform to manipulate cells under controlled conditions I.e. subject cells to a specific surface antigen and investigate the response.