Refinement of the Hamster Model of Clostridium difficile Disease

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Abstract

The Golden Syrian hamster is widely regarded as the most relevant small animal model of Clostridium difficile disease as oral infection of animals pre-treated with antibiotics reproduces many of the symptoms observed in man. These include diarrhoea, histological damage, colonisation of the large bowel and sporulation of the organism at the terminal stage of the disease. However, infection results in a fatal outcome, which in the past has been used as an experimental endpoint. More recently, attempts have been made to refine the model to maximise the scientific data generated whilst minimising animal suffering. This has been achieved using a combination of qualitative and quantitative measurements taken during the course of the infection and at post-mortem. This has allowed timing of experiments to be optimised to ensure appropriate monitoring of animals during the acute phase of infection and provides opportunities to establish appropriate humane endpoints to these experiments.