In this narrative review we aimed to assess the usefulness of the different animal models in identifying injury mechanisms and developing therapies for humans suffering from spinal cord injury (SCI). Results obtained from rodent studies are useful but, due to the anatomical, molecular and functional differences, confirmation of these findings in large animals or non-human primates may lead to basic discoveries that cannot be made in rodent models and that are more useful for developing treatment strategies in humans. SCI in dogs can be considered as intermediate between rodent models and human clinical trials, but the primate models could help to develop appropriate methods that might be more relevant to humans. Ideally, an animal model should meet the requirements of availability and repeatability as well as reproduce the anatomical features and the clinical pathological changing process of SCI. An animal model that completely simulates SCI in humans does not exist. The different experimental models of SCI have advantages and disadvantages for investigating the different aspects of lesion development, recovery mechanisms and potential therapeutic interventions. The potential advantages of non-human primate models include genetic similarities, similar caliber/length of the spinal cord as well as biological and physiological responses to injury which are more similar to humans. Among the potential disadvantages, high operating costs, infrastructural requirements and ethical concerns should be considered. The translation from experimental repair strategies to clinical applications needs to be investigated in future carefully designed studies.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Disease Models, Animal*
Spinal Cord Injuries/pathology*
Translational Medical Research
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