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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2013 Mar 1;304(5):G449-68. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00199.2012. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Animal models of chronic liver diseases.

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Department of Medicine II, Section Molecular Hepatology-Alcohol Associated Diseases, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.


Chronic liver diseases are frequent and potentially life threatening for humans. The underlying etiologies are diverse, ranging from viral infections, autoimmune disorders, and intoxications (including alcohol abuse) to imbalanced diets. Although at early stages of disease the liver regenerates in the absence of the insult, advanced stages cannot be healed and may require organ transplantation. A better understanding of underlying mechanisms is mandatory for the design of new drugs to be used in clinic. Therefore, rodent models are being developed to mimic human liver disease. However, no model to date can completely recapitulate the "corresponding" human disorder. Limiting factors are the time frame required in humans to establish a certain liver disease and the fact that rodents possess a distinct immune system compared with humans and have different metabolic rates affecting liver homeostasis. These features account for the difficulties in developing adequate rodent models for studying disease progression and for testing new pharmaceuticals to be translated into the clinic. Nevertheless, traditional and new promising animal models that mimic certain attributes of chronic liver diseases are established and being used to deepen our understanding in the underlying mechanisms of distinct liver diseases. This review aims at providing a comprehensive overview of recent advances in animal models recapitulating different features and etiologies of human liver diseases.

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