Translational Research: Animal Models of Obliterative Bronchiolitis after Lung Transplantation
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Obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) or chronic graft dysfunction remains the major limitation to long-term success of lung transplantation. Investigation using animal models is a critical component of research to understand the underlying pathological mechanisms and to develop novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for OB. Multiple animal models of OB exist, including orthotopic lung transplantation in rodents and large animals, orthotopic tracheal transplantation and heterotopic transplantation of a trachea in variable sites such as subcutaneous, intraomental and intrapulmonary sites. The most important issue for researchers is not specifically which model is the best but which is the most appropriate model to test their scientific hypothesis. For example, while orthotopic lung transplantation best mimics the overall surgical procedure, a question regarding fibrotic processes of OB may be better answered using heterotopic tracheal transplant models because of their reliable reproducibility of allograft obliterative airway fibrosis. Animal models should be continuously refined, modified and sometimes combined to fit the particular research purpose. We review the available animal models, their modifications and possible applications to assist researchers in choosing the appropriate model for their intended research.
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