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Cardiovascular Endocrinology:
doi: 10.1097/XCE.0000000000000023
Cardiovascular Biomarkers in Animal Models - A Bridge to Human Disease Edited by Jens Peter Goetze and Lisbeth Hoier Olsen: Editorials

Animal models

Goetze, Jens P.a; Krentz, Andrewb

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aDepartment of Clinical Biochemistry, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark

bProfil Institute for Clinical Research, Chula Vista, USA

Correspondence to Jens P. Goetze, MD, DMSc, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark Tel: +45 3545 2202; fax: +45 3545 2880; e-mail: jpg@dadlnet.dk

Received October 8, 2013

Accepted January 7, 2014

In this issue of Cardiovascular Endocrinology, we are proud to present a broad and dedicated spectrum of reviews on animal models in cardiovascular disease. The reviews cover most aspects of animal models in science from basic differences and similarities between small animals and the human pathology, to biomarkers in diagnosis and prognostic evaluation, to drug testing and targeted medicine.

In modern science, animal models have virtually always been used as surrogates for patients and their suffering. In this regard, it is hard to imagine our current understanding of human pathology without the use of animals as models of both our common and rare diseases. One classic example is provided in the introductory review by Jens H. Henriksen 1, who takes us back to the beginning with Starling and his renowned physiology laboratory in Liverpool. By using dogs as models, he and William Bayliss could test for the existence of blood-borne regulators of pancreatic secretion, which paved the way for endocrinology as we know it today. Starling later moved on to characterize the laws of the contractile heart, again using animal models as the basis of his discoveries. Focusing on heart function, Zois et al. 2 take us to the comparative aspect between the different species by asking whether mere heart size matters. Notably, the biggest hearts tested to date came from whales, in which the depolarization from the sinus node to the succeeding (massive) ventricular contraction has fascinated cardiologists for decades. Hunter et al. 3 address a more delicate issue in cardiovascular research models relating to marked anatomical differences between species as well as a general concern on using adolescent animals as models of adult disease. Rademaker et al. 4 bring our attention to sheep as models of the adrenomedullin hormonal system in cardiovascular endocrinology. Burley et al. 5 discuss the pros and cons of using animal organs in different in-vitro setups with a clear focus on the isolated, perfused heart. Häggström et al. 6 review the strengths of naturally occurring disease in small animals with inbred dogs as model. Finally, Oyama 7 takes a look ahead at biomarker discoveries stemming from animal models and spontaneous animal disease.

Animal models comprise a large interdisciplinary field. It ranges from rodents (being cheap and well understood) as a powerful tool for studying genetic alterations, to ‘small’ animals such as dogs, pigs, and sheep. The field, therefore, also bridges the gap between the veterinary field and human physiology and its clinical science. Animal models are an excellent example of translational science per se, and all of us must help translate findings in models to human disease without making simplistic conclusions. This is not a simple task, as animals do many things differently, and the effects of environmental factors on disease are almost always bypassed in animals as they are more prone to other factors in their controlled environment. A safe example here is type 2 diabetes, which not only has a multigenetic background but is also heavily related to lifestyles that animals simply do not practice. Finally, it should always be recapitulated that we are studying animals under conditions that are far from what their native biology has adjusted to through evolution.

It is our sincere hope that this special issue of the journal will be an integral part of many laboratories that use animal models for studying disease. Also, the issue should hopefully find its way to new scientists and be included in their basic training, as intellectual scrutiny must always be kept high in terms of interpretation of data from animals as surrogate beings. Every species comes with its own genome, proteome, physiology, and pathophysiology – a fact that, if overlooked, could have dire consequences in the diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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1. Henriksen JH.Ernest Henry Starling: the history of cardiovascular endocrinology and the continuous need for developing animal models.Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:2–8.

2. Zois NE, Pedersen HD, Häggström J, Olsen LH.Echocardiographic assessment of left ventricular function in mitral regurgitation: is the dog a useful model of man?Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:9–14.

3. Hunter I, Terzic D, Zois NE, Olsen LH, Goetze JP.Pig models for the human heart failure syndrome.Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:15–18.

4. Rademaker MT, Charles CJ, Richards M.Sheep for the study of the urocortins and other hormones.Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:39–43.

5. Burley DS, Bice JS, Baxter GF.Natriuretic peptides in animal models of cardiovascular disease.Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:19–26.

6. Häggström J, Ljungvall I, Höglund K.Cardiovascular endocrinology in naturally occurring canine and feline models.Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:32–38.

7. Oyama MA.New cardiovascular biomarkers in animal models: what can be expected in the coming years?Cardiovasc Endocrinol2014;3:27–31.

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