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Table 2 Advantages and disadvantages of various in vivo models commonly used in the assessment of biomaterial strategies for cartilage defect repair

From: The benefits and limitations of animal models for translational research in cartilage repair

Species Advantage Disadvantage
Mouse Low cost, manageable easily available Transgenic and athymic strains available Can be used in subcutaneous and intramuscular model for degradation rate and safety profile Very small joints–in situ examination impossible
Rat Low cost, easily available Athymic strains available Maintain in-house Permanently open growth plates accelerating intrinsic healing Increased density of cells in cartilage causing more efficient healing Partial thickness defects impossible
Rabbit Low cost Maintain in-house Increased intrinsic healing due to increased cell density Very different load characteristics Consistent partial thickness defects very difficult to achieve
Dog Naturally occurring disease state Co-operate with rehabilitation regime Thin cartilage Small critical size defect (4 mm) Complex ethical approval process
Pig Biochemistry similar to humans Bone apposition rate and trabecular thickness similar to human Partial thickness defects possible Expensive Difficult to obtain at skeletal maturity Specialised habitat Temperament
Goat Anatomy and biomechanics similar to humans Partial thickness defects possible Easily available Low maintenance Subchondral cyst formation
Sheep Anatomy similar to humans Partial thickness defects possible Easily available Low maintenance Subchondral cyst formation
Horse Large defects similar to humans Partial thickness large diameter defects possible Naturally occurring defects Similar biomechanics in trochlear groove Second look arthroscopy possible Expensive to acquire and maintain – specialised centre required Cannot avoid weight bearing on the joint during rehab phase if required Very dense subchondral bone MRI/CT impossible due to size