Despite recent advancements, it is still difficult to evaluate in vivo responses to toxicants in humans. Development of a system that can mimic the in vivo responses of human cells will enable more accurate health risk assessments. A surrogate human hematopoietic lineage can be established in NOD/Shi-scid/IL-2Rγnull (NOG) mice by transplanting human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (Hu-NOG mice). Here, we first evaluated the toxic response of human-like hematopoietic lineage in NOG mice to a representative toxic agent, benzene. Flow cytometric analysis showed that benzene caused a significant decrease in the number of human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells in the bone marrow and the number of human leukocytes in the peripheral blood and hematopoietic organs. Next, we established chimeric mice by transplanting C57BL/6 mouse-derived bone marrow cells into NOG mice (Mo-NOG mice). A comparison of the degree of benzene-induced hematotoxicity in donor-derived hematopoietic lineage cells within Mo-NOG mice indicated that the toxic response of Hu-NOG mice reflected interspecies differences in susceptibilities to benzene. Responses to the toxic effects of benzene were greater in lymphoid cells than in myeloid cells in Mo-NOG and Hu-NOG mice. These findings suggested that Hu-NOG mice may be a powerful in vivo tool for assessing hematotoxicity in humans, while accounting for interspecies differences.
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