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Comp Med. 2008 Apr;58(2):120-8.

Modeling sepsis in the laboratory: merging sound science with animal well-being.

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Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Despite impressive advances in biomedical research, few noteworthy breakthroughs have been made in the treatment of sepsis during the past several decades. This stalemate is primarily due to the intricate and heterogenic nature of the systemic immune responses characterized as the sepsis syndrome. In general, such complexity must be approached with in vivo models. Several animal models have been described, suggesting that none adequately address all of the pressing needs in sepsis research. The most clinically applicable models involve a localized infection, such as surgically induced polymicrobial sepsis, that gradually propagates a systemic immune response. Because relevant models must mimic a severe and chronic syndrome, animal well-being is often a concern in sepsis research. A balance between the needs of sepsis research and animal welfare can only be achieved through knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of and alternatives to in vivo sepsis models.

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