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A practical guide to setting up pig models for cardiovascular catheterization, electrophysiological assessment and heart disease research

Abstract

Over the past years, the use of large animals has become increasingly interesting in translational research, to bridge the gap between basic research in rodents and targeted therapies in humans. Pigs are highly valued in cardiovascular research because of their anatomical, hemodynamic and electrophysiological features, which closely resemble those of humans. For studying these aspects in swine, cardiac catheterization techniques are essential procedures. Although cardiac catheterization seems to be comparatively easy in pigs as human equipment can be used to perform the procedure, there are some pitfalls. Here we provide a detailed protocol to guide the reader through different aspects of cardiac catheterization in pigs. We suggest an approach for safe intubation and extubation, provide tips for perioperative and postoperative management of the animals and guide the reader through different experimental steps, including sheath insertion. We also describe the procedures for basic electrophysiological assessment of conduction properties and atrial fibrillation induction, hemodynamic assessment via pressure–volume loops, right heart and left heart catheterization and the development of a myocardial infarction model by balloon occlusion. This protocol was developed in Landrace pigs and can be adapted to other pig breeds or other large animal species. This protocol requires approximately six and a half working hours in total and should be performed by researchers with previous experience in large animal experimentation and in the presence of a veterinarian.

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Fig. 1: Overview of equipment needed for intubation and illustration of the intubation technique in ventral and dorsal recumbency.
Fig. 2: Illustration of venous and arterial cervical sheath insertion.
Fig. 3: Overview of the stages for successful PV loop generation.
Fig. 4: Overview of instruments and equipment used for cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology studies.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) grant number 413635475 and the Munich Clinician Scientist Program (MCSP) of the LMU Munich to D.S. and P.T., the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK; 81X2600255 to S.C.; 81Z0600206 to S.K.), the Corona Foundation (S199/10079/2019 to S.C.), the ERA-NET on Cardiovascular Diseases (ERA-CVD; 01KL1910 to S.C.) and the Heinrich-and-Lotte-Mühlfenzl Stiftung (to S.C.). The funders had no role in manuscript preparation.

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D.S., P.T. and S.C. drafted the manuscript and prepared the figures. C.B., J.V., V.P. and N.H. wrote the sections ‘Materials’, ‘Equipment’, ‘Reagent setup’ and ‘Equipment setup’ and prepared Tables 1–3. M.S. wrote the section ‘Sonography-guided puncture of the femoral vessels’. D.M. and J.H. wrote the section ‘PV loops’. S.K. wrote the section ‘Coronary angiography’. All authors carefully read and revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sebastian Clauss.

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Schüttler, D., Tomsits, P., Bleyer, C. et al. A practical guide to setting up pig models for cardiovascular catheterization, electrophysiological assessment and heart disease research. Lab Anim 51, 46–67 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41684-021-00909-6

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