Objective: Review the literature for single site cartilage defect research and evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of different preclinical animal models.
Method: A literature search for animal models evaluating single site cartilage defects was performed. Variables tabulated and analyzed included animal species, age and number, defect depth and diameter and study duration. Cluster analyses were then used to separate animals with only distal femoral defects into similar groups based on defect dimensions. Representative human studies were included allowing comparison of common clinical lesions to animal models. The suitability of each species for single site cartilage defect research and its relevance to clinical human practice is then discussed.
Results: One hundred thirteen studies relating to single site cartilage defects were reviewed. Cluster analysis included 101 studies and placed the murine, laprine, ovine, canine, porcine and caprine models in group 1. Group 2 contained ovine, canine, porcine, caprine and equine models. Group 3 contained only equine models and humans. Species in each group are similar with regard to defect dimensions. Some species occur in multiple groups reflecting utilization of a variety defect sizes. We report and discuss factors to be considered when selecting a preclinical animal model for single site cartilage defect research.
Discussion: Standardization of study design and outcome parameters would help to compare different studies evaluating various novel therapeutic concepts. Comparison to the human clinical counterpart during study design may help increase the predictive value of preclinical research using animal models and improve the process of developing efficacious therapies.