Macro- and micromorphometric studies of the vascular structures from the Göttingen® minipig


Porcine models have become increasingly popular in cardiovascular research, because physiological and anatomical features of the cardiovascular system from pigs including the coronary vascular system and the coronary collateral vessels are comparable to humans. The standard farm pig rapidly increases in body weight and size, potentially confounding serial measurements of cardiac function and morphology. In contrast Göttingen® minipigs have a characteristic growth curve that avoids the dramatic increase in weight in adulthood seen in farm pigs. The Göttingen® minipig is especially suitable for long-term studies because of its inherent small size and ease of handling, even at full maturity, which is reached at 2 y of age compared with 3 y for domestic pigs. However, there is still a need on detailed information about the macro- and microvascular characteristics of the vascular system from the Göttingen® minipigs. The study was aimed to describe the macro- and microvascular characteristics of adult Göttingen® minipigs (n=18) by use of CT-imaging and histology over a time period of 4 months starting from 16 months of age up to 20 months. The animals showed no clinical symptoms of disease and were kept in-house at a light/dark rhythm of 12:12 under defined climatic conditions. The experiments were licensed by the regional authorities for health and social affairs (LaGeSo), Berlin. The study included the measurement of the length and of the luminal diameter of arteries and veins from the neck, thorax, abdomen, and limbs which are frequently used in experiments with pigs. In addition microscopical and histological parameters (luminal vessel diameter, thickness of the tunica externa, tunica media, and tunica interna) were studied on hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections of the blood vessel.
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