The minipig in toxicology

Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2006 Jul;57(5-6):335-9. doi: 10.1016/j.etp.2006.03.003. Epub 2006 May 24.


The use of pigs (Sus scrofa) in biomedical research is well established in particular in surgical and physiological research. For years both pigs and minipigs have been used in pharmacology and toxicology to answer specific questions when the more conventional species have been found unsuitable. The development of minipigs has resulted in strains of more manageable size than the domestic pig. Because of their well-accepted physiological and other similarities to humans, minipigs are becoming increasingly attractive toxicological and pharmacological models. There are several strains of minipigs (Göttingen, Yucatan, Sinclair, Hanford and other). This presentation is based on experience primarily with the Göttingen minipigs. In toxicology in Europe minipigs have become very popular for pharmaceutical studies in place of dogs and primates. Minipigs have been shown to be sensitive to a wide variety of drugs and chemicals. It has become obvious that minipigs can be used for all routes of administration, and in many cases are preferable to dogs or primates for metabolic or pharmacological reasons. There are advantages over the traditional non-rodent species in relation to specific responses to particular drug classes. Their use in general toxicology testing employing the continuous intravenous infusion, dermal or inhalation route has been described in detail in the literature. Background data on toxicological endpoints (ophthalmology, clinical pathology, ECG, organ weight, histopathology and reproduction parameters) have been well-established allowing studies to be interpreted. In the context of this conference, histopathology and toxicopathology data of spontaneous or drug-induced origin are available in the scientific literature. Now there is good supply of high-quality minipigs of known disease status. There are advantages over the traditional non-rodent species in relation to the ethical difficulties of use of animals in biomedical research. Consequently, there are scientific, economic and sociological reasons that make minipigs good toxicological and pharmacological models. The principal disadvantage is that toxicity testing in minipigs may require more test compound than the traditional species.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Animal*
  • Reference Values
  • Swine
  • Swine, Miniature / physiology*
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Xenobiotics