Premature guinea pigs: a new paradigm to investigate the late-effects of preterm birth
Preterm birth is common and the associated short-term morbidity well described. The adult-onset consequences of preterm birth are less clear, but cardiovascular and metabolic health may be adversely affected. Although large animal models of preterm birth addressing important short-term issues exist, long-term studies are hampered by significant logistical constraints. Current small animal models of prematurity require terminal caesarean section of the mother; both caesarean birth and early maternal care modify offspring adult cardio-metabolic function. We describe a novel method for inducing preterm labour in guinea pigs. With support comparable to that received by moderately preterm human infants, preterm pups are viable. Growth trajectories between preterm and term-born pups differ significantly; between term equivalent age and weaning ex-preterm animals demonstrate increased weight and ponderal index. We believe this novel paradigm will significantly improve our ability to investigate the cardio-metabolic sequelae of preterm birth throughout the life course and into the second generation.