An ovine preimmune foetal model to study the effect of cellular therapies for myocardic diseases

Vet Res Commun. 2008 Sep:32 Suppl 1:S45-50. doi: 10.1007/s11259-008-9092-4.


The ovine foetus is an ideal model for preclinical medical studies of cell therapies. It allows us to follow the behaviour of repairing cells inserted into a favourable physiological microenvironment in an animal species more closely related to humans than the rat or rabbit. In addition, the preimmune foetus is able to support cell engraftment by eliminating the problems of tissue rejection. Labelled fibroblasts were transplanted into the myocardium of preimmune foetuses, injecting through a disposable bowed mouth pipette into the left ventricular apex. Two weeks later, foetuses were isolated by laparotomy and each heart was collected and morphologically analyzed. No cases of abortion or postoperative complications in mothers or foetuses occurred. Macroscopically, the isolated hearts did not display any abnormality apart from a small petechia at the injection site. Tissue sections did not show any sign of acute tissue inflammation and viable labelled cells were easily identified among myocardiocytes. This model system guarantees a reduced damage in the engrafted tissue, a high survival and easy retrieval of the injected cells. The direct injection of cells into the preimmune ovine foetus myocardium can be satisfactorily performed to control tissue delivery and to reduce the risk of cell loss and dispersion.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / veterinary*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Fetal Diseases / therapy
  • Fetal Diseases / veterinary*
  • Fetal Heart / physiology
  • Fetal Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Pregnancy
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Sheep / embryology*