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      Large Mammalian Animal Models of Heart Disease

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          Due to the biological complexity of the cardiovascular system, the animal model is an urgent pre-clinical need to advance our knowledge of cardiovascular disease and to explore new drugs to repair the damaged heart. Ideally, a model system should be inexpensive, easily manipulated, reproducible, a biological representative of human disease, and ethically sound. Although a larger animal model is more expensive and difficult to manipulate, its genetic, structural, functional, and even disease similarities to humans make it an ideal model to first consider. This review presents the commonly-used large animals—dog, sheep, pig, and non-human primates—while the less-used other large animals—cows, horses—are excluded. The review attempts to introduce unique points for each species regarding its biological property, degrees of susceptibility to develop certain types of heart diseases, and methodology of induced conditions. For example, dogs barely develop myocardial infarction, while dilated cardiomyopathy is developed quite often. Based on the similarities of each species to the human, the model selection may first consider non-human primates—pig, sheep, then dog—but it also depends on other factors, for example, purposes, funding, ethics, and policy. We hope this review can serve as a basic outline of large animal models for cardiovascular researchers and clinicians.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Small animal models of heart failure: development of novel therapies, past and present.

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            Intracoronary delivery of autologous cardiac stem cells improves cardiac function in a porcine model of chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy.

            Relevant preclinical models are necessary for further mechanistic and translational studies of c-kit+ cardiac stem cells (CSCs). The present study was undertaken to determine whether intracoronary CSCs are beneficial in a porcine model of chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy. Pigs underwent a 90-minute coronary occlusion followed by reperfusion. Three months later, autologous CSCs (n=11) or vehicle (n=10) were infused into the infarct-related artery. At this time, all indices of left ventricular (LV) function were similar in control and CSC-treated pigs, indicating that the damage inflicted by the infarct in the 2 groups was similar; 1 month later, however, CSC-treated pigs exhibited significantly greater LV ejection fraction (echocardiography) (51.7±2.0% versus 42.9±2.3%, P<0.01), systolic thickening fraction in the infarcted LV wall, and maximum LV dP/dt, as well as lower LV end-diastolic pressure. Confocal microscopy showed clusters of small α-sarcomeric actin-positive cells expressing Ki67 in the scar of treated pigs, consistent with cardiac regeneration. The origin of these cycling myocytes from the injected cells was confirmed in 4 pigs that received enhanced green fluorescent protein -labeled CSCs, which were positive for the cardiac markers troponin I, troponin T, myosin heavy chain, and connexin-43. Some engrafted CSCs also formed vascular structures and expressed α-smooth muscle actin. Intracoronary infusion of autologous CSCs improves regional and global LV function and promotes cardiac and vascular regeneration in pigs with old myocardial infarction (scar). The results mimic those recently reported in humans (Stem Cell Infusion in Patients with Ischemic CardiOmyopathy [SCIPIO] trial) and establish this porcine model of ischemic cardiomyopathy as a useful and clinically relevant model for studying CSCs.
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              Endogenous cardiac stem cell activation by insulin-like growth factor-1/hepatocyte growth factor intracoronary injection fosters survival and regeneration of the infarcted pig heart.

              The purpose of this study was to test the ability of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) to activate resident endogenous porcine cardiac stem/progenitor cells (epCSCs) and to promote myocardial repair through a clinically applicable intracoronary injection protocol in a pig model of myocardial infarction (MI) relevant to human disease. In rodents, cardiac stem/progenitor cell (CSC) transplantation as well as in situ activation through intramyocardial injection of specific growth factors has been shown to result in myocardial regeneration after acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Acute MI was induced in pigs by a 60-min percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography left anterior descending artery occlusion. The IGF-1 and HGF were co-administered through the infarct-related artery in a single dose (ranging from 0.5 to 2 μg HGF and 2 to 8 μg IGF-1) 30 min after coronary reperfusion. Pigs were sacrificed 21 days later for dose-response relationship evaluation by immunohistopathology or 2 months later for cardiac function evaluation by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. The IGF-1/HGF activated c-kit positive-CD45 negative epCSCs and increased their myogenic differentiation in vitro. The IGF-1/HGF, in a dose-dependent manner, improved cardiomyocyte survival, and reduced fibrosis and cardiomyocyte reactive hypertrophy. It significantly increased c-kit positive-CD45 negative epCSC number and fostered the generation of new myocardium (myocytes and microvasculature) in infarcted and peri-infarct/border regions at 21 and 60 days after AMI. The IGF-1/HGF reduced infarct size and improved left ventricular function at 2 months after AMI. In an animal model of AMI relevant to the human disease, intracoronary administration of IGF-1/HGF is a practical and effective strategy to reduce pathological cardiac remodeling, induce myocardial regeneration, and improve ventricular function. Copyright © 2011 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                J Cardiovasc Dev Dis
                J Cardiovasc Dev Dis
                Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease
                05 October 2016
                December 2016
                : 3
                : 4
                [1 ]Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA; pcamacho@
                [2 ]Research Institute of Heart Failure, Shanghai East Hospital of Tongji University, Shanghai 200120, China; frankfan@ (H.F.); liu.zhongmin@ (Z.L.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: jiahe@ ; Tel.: +1-540-231-2032; Fax: +1-540-231-6033
                © 2016 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (


                heart disease model, non-human primates, pig, sheep, dog


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