Abigail Levan Smith
Professor of Pathobiology (Microbiology)
Associate Director, Diagnostic Services and Rodent Quality Assurance, University Animal Laboratory ResourcesContact Information
177E Old Vet Quadrangle, M.C. 6009
3800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
AB (Biology) Brown University, 1972
MPH (Infectious Disease Epidemiology) Yale University, 1974
PhD. (Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Virology) Yale University, 1978
Description of Research Expertise
Dr. Smith’s research interests are infectious diseases of laboratory and wild rodents and appropriate housing modalities for laboratory-maintained rodents. She has worked extensively in developing diagnostic tests for viruses of rodents and has studied the immunomodulatory properties of several naturally occurring viral infections of laboratory rodents. She has shown that two of the most common viruses of laboratory mice, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and mouse parvovirus, can alter host immune responses. Both agents affect T cell function and MHV also compromises accessory (antigen-presenting) cell function. Dr. Smith has also surveyed wild rodent populations in Australia, Madagascar, rural Connecticut, the New Haven (CT) landfill, the Chicago Forest Preserve and University City in Philadelphia for the occurrence of viral and bacterial agents as well as parasites. Each population was unique in terms of microbial flora. In some cases human pathogens were detected and, in the case of the Philadelphia mice, almost all were Helicobacter-positive by polymerase chain reaction. This is the first report of Helicobacter, which is common in laboratory mice, in wild rodents.
The explosive increase in the number of genetically altered mice used in research has been accompanied by shortages of housing space. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide; National Research Council, 1996) contains guidelines for the amount of cage space required by several laboratory-housed species, including mice. The guidelines are based on the weight of the animals and are not supported by experimental data but are used by accreditation bodies during facility inspections. Others have shown that mice housed with reduced amounts of floor space exhibit reduced aggression. Dr. Smith and collaborators have published results of housing density studies using four inbred strains of mice and cages with different amounts of floor space. They concluded that mice can be housed at twice the density (half the cage space) recommended in the Guide without substantial change in their micro-environment (in-cage carbon dioxide and ammonia levels, temperature and humidity).
Corbo-Rodgers E, ES Staub, T Zou, AL Smith, T Kambayashi and J Maltzman.: Oral ivermectin treatment as an unexpected initiator of CreT2-mediated deletion in T cells. Nature Immunology 13: 197-198, 2012.
Paigen B, KL Svenson, R Von Smith, MA Marion, T Stearns, LL Peters and AL Smith.: Physiological effects of housing density on C57BL/6J mice over a 9-month period. J Anim Sci 11: 36-55, 2012.
Smith AL: Management of rodent viral disease outbreaks: one institution's (r)evolution ILAR J 51: 127-137, 2010.
Parker SE, Malone S, Bunte RM and Smith AL: Infectious diseases in wild mice (Mus musculus) collected on and around the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) campus Comp Med 59: 424-430, 2009.
Barthold SW and Smith AL: Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus The Mouse in Biomedical Research Page: 179-213, Fox JG, Barthold SW, Davisson MY, Newcomer C, Quimby F and Smith AL (eds.). Elsevier, 2007.
Barthold SW and Smith AL: Mouse hepatitis virus The Mouse in Biomedical Research Page: 141-178, Fox JG, Barthold SW, Davisson MT, Newcomer C, Quimby F and Smith AL
(eds.). Elsevier, 2007.
Smith AL, SL Mabus, C Muir and Y Woo: Effect of housing density and cage floor space on three strains
of young adult inbred mice
Comp Med Page: 368-376, 2005.
Smith AL and DJ Corrow: Modifications to husbandry and housing conditions of laboratory rodents for improved wellbeing
ILAR J 46: 140-147, 2005.
Matsui EC, GB Diette, EJM Krop, RC Aalberse, AL Smith, J Curtin-Brosnan and PA Eggleston: Mouse allergen-specific IgG4 and clinical tolerance to mouse allergen
Clin Exp Allergy 35: 1347-1353, 2005.
Smith E, JD Stockwell, I Schweitzer, SH Langley and AL Smith: Evaluation of cage micro-environment of mice housed on various types of bedding materials Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci 43: 12-17, 2004.