Chronic inflammation underlies the pathological progression of various diseases, and thus many efforts have been made to quantitatively evaluate the inflammatory status of the diseases. In this study, we generated a highly sensitive inflammation-monitoring mouse system using a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clone containing extended flanking sequences of the human interleukin 6 gene (hIL6) locus, in which the luciferase (Luc) reporter gene is integrated (hIL6-BAC-Luc). We successfully monitored lipopolysaccharide-induced systemic inflammation in various tissues of the hIL6-BAC-Luc mice using an in vivo bioluminescence imaging system. When two chronic inflammatory disease models, i.e., a genetic model of atopic dermatitis and a model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), were applied to the hIL6-BAC-Luc mice, luciferase bioluminescence was specifically detected in the atopic skin lesion and central nervous system, respectively. Moreover, the Luc activities correlated well with the disease severity. Nrf2 is a master transcription factor that regulates antioxidative and detoxification enzyme genes. Upon EAE induction, the Nrf2-deficient mice crossed with the hIL6-BAC-Luc mice exhibited enhanced neurological symptoms concomitantly with robust luciferase luminescence in the neuronal tissue. Thus, whole-body in vivo monitoring using the hIL6-BAC-Luc transgenic system (WIM-6 system) provides a new and powerful diagnostic tool for real-time in vivo monitoring of inflammatory status in multiple different disease models.
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