Heart Failure Reviews

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 759–777 | Cite as

Surgical and physiological challenges in the development of left and right heart failure in rat models

  • Michael G. KatzEmail author
  • Anthony S. Fargnoli
  • Sarah M. Gubara
  • Elena Chepurko
  • Charles R. Bridges
  • Roger J. Hajjar


Rodent surgical animal models of heart failure (HF) are critically important for understanding the proof of principle of the cellular alterations underlying the development of the disease as well as evaluating therapeutics. Robust, reproducible rodent models are a prerequisite to the development of pharmacological and molecular strategies for the treatment of HF in patients. Due to the absence of standardized guidelines regarding surgical technique and clear criteria for HF progression in rats, objectivity is compromised. Scientific publications in rats rarely fully disclose the actual surgical details, and technical and physiological challenges. This lack of reporting is one of the main reasons that the outcomes specified in similar studies are highly variable and associated with unnecessary loss of animals, compromising scientific assessment. This review details rat circulatory and coronary arteries anatomy, the surgical details of rat models that recreate the HF phenotype of myocardial infarction, ischemia/reperfusion, left and right ventricular pressure, and volume overload states, and summarizes the technical and physiological challenges of creating HF. The purpose of this article is to help investigators understand the underlying issues of current HF models in order to reduce variable results and ensure successful, reproducible models of HF.


Rat heart anatomy and physiology Right heart failure Left heart failure Surgical models 



Heart failure


Left anterior descending artery




Myocardial infarction




Left ventricle


Magnetic resonance imaging


Ventricular tachycardia


Ventricular fibrillation


Transverse aortic constriction


Ascending aortic constriction


Pulmonary artery


Right ventricle


Inferior vena cava


Aortic regurgitation


Pulmonary blood flow


Systemic blood flow



The authors wish to acknowledge the Gene Therapy Resource Program (GTRP). We thank Anne Olson for the excellent illustrations.

Funding information

This work was supported by NIH grant 7R01 HL083078-10.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Animal studies

All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed and approved by the appropriate institutional committees. No human studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael G. Katz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anthony S. Fargnoli
    • 1
  • Sarah M. Gubara
    • 1
  • Elena Chepurko
    • 1
  • Charles R. Bridges
    • 1
  • Roger J. Hajjar
    • 1
  1. 1.Cardiovascular Research Center, Department of CardiologyIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA

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