Small Animal Models for Reconstructive Transplantation

  • Barbara Kern
  • Robert Sucher
Part of the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine book series (STEMCELL)


Due to profound improvements in immunomodulatory therapies, microsurgical techniques, and understanding of immunological mechanisms, vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) has become a feasible treatment option for patients suffering from functionally significant tissue defects with no other option for reconstruction therapy. These advancements are based on many studies that have been carried out in a large variety of rodent models; however, the utility of each model varies by species, available reagents and tools to support the study, and level of homogeneity with the human body. The right selection of an animal model for a specific transplant procedure represents an important step in basic research, and the development of various animal surgical models containing different combinations of tissues is therefore crucial for the investigation of immunological processes. To date, a wide range of different species is employed in these studies, including hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, pigs, and nonhuman primates, although the most commonly used animal models for transplant research are rats and mice. However, the complexity of acute/chronic allograft rejection and functional recovery as well as the urgent need for improved patient outcomes provide the impetus to employ small animal models for reconstructive transplantation. Nevertheless, a combination of both in vivo and in vitro tests is necessary for profound research in this novel emerging surgical field. Moreover, this valuable approach might overcome the burden of systemic side effects due to conventional immunosuppressive strategies and directs basic research more and more toward the overall goal of allotolerance induction.


Small animal models Basic research Vascularized composite allotransplantation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Visceral, Transplant, and Thoracic SurgeryInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Department of General, Visceral and Transplant SurgeryCharité – Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlinGermany

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