The wide utility of rabbits as models of human diseases

Pedro J. Esteves, Joana Abrantes, Hanna Mari Baldauf, Lbachir BenMohamed, Yuxing Chen, Neil Christensen, Javier González-Gallego, Lorenzo Giacani, Jiafen Hu, Gilla Kaplan, Oliver T. Keppler, Katherine L. Knight, Xiang Peng Kong, Dennis K. Lanning, Jacques Le Pendu, Ana Lemos De Matos, Jia Liu, Shuying Liu, Ana M. Lopes, Shan LuSheila Lukehart, Yukari C. Manabe, Fabiana Neves, Grant McFadden, Ruimin Pan, Xuwen Peng, Patricia de Sousa-Pereira, Ana Pinheiro, Masmudur Rahman, Natalie Ruvoën-Clouet, Selvakumar Subbian, Maria Jesús Tuñón, Wessel van der Loo, Michael Vaine, Laura E. Via, Shixia Wang, Rose Mage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Studies using the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus contributed to elucidating numerous fundamental aspects of antibody structure and diversification mechanisms and continue to be valuable for the development and testing of therapeutic humanized polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies. Additionally, during the last two decades, the use of the European rabbit as an animal model has been increasingly extended to many human diseases. This review documents the continuing wide utility of the rabbit as a reliable disease model for development of therapeutics and vaccines and studies of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying many human diseases. Examples include syphilis, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS, acute hepatic failure and diseases caused by noroviruses, ocular herpes, and papillomaviruses. The use of rabbits for vaccine development studies, which began with Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccine in 1881, continues today with targets that include the potentially blinding HSV-1 virus infection and HIV-AIDS. Additionally, two highly fatal viral diseases, rabbit hemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis, affect the European rabbit and provide unique models to understand co-evolution between a vertebrate host and viral pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalExperimental and Molecular Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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