Animal models of heart failure
Animal models of heart failure present homogenous groups of animals all with heart failure produced by a well defined lesion at a particular stage of evolution, in contrast to humans, who present with heart failure of uncertain duration from a wide variety of causes and with marked variation in age and pre-morbid health and fitness. Animal models of heart failure provide diseased groups of animals in which experimental procedures, not possible in humans, can be evaluated and in which new treatments can be tested before their safety is established in humans. An ideal model should have a common human counterpart and should closely mimic heart failure in humans. Thus the haemodynamic changes should include increased cardiac filling pressures and low cardiac output. There should be evidence of activation of the sympathetic nervous system and increased secretion of hormones such as renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, vasopressin, atrial natriuretic factor and endothelin. The clinical features of the human syndrome such as cardiomegaly, lung and peripheral oedema and decreased exercise tolerance should be present. Lastly, the model should be inexpensive and technically simple to produce and study. This paper reviews some commonly used models of heart failure in relation to the criteria listed above. There is no perfect animal model of heart failure and in practice one should match the model to the purpose of the study.