Improving Research Practice in Rat Orthotopic and Partial Orthotopic Liver Transplantation: A Review, Recommendation, and Publication Guide

Eur Surg Res. 2015;55(1-2):119-38. doi: 10.1159/000437095. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Background: Due to a worldwide shortage of donor organs for liver transplantation, alternative approaches, such as split and living donor liver transplantations, were introduced to increase the donor pool and reduce mortality on liver transplant waiting lists. Numerous details concerning the mechanisms and pathophysiology of liver regeneration, small-for-size syndrome, rejection, and tolerance in partial liver transplantation facilitated the development of various animal models. The high number of preclinical animal studies contributed enormously to our understanding of many clinical aspects of living donor and partial liver transplantations.

Summary: Microsurgical rat models of partial orthotopic liver transplantation are well established and widely used. Nevertheless, several issues regarding this procedure are controversial, not clarified, or not yet properly standardized (graft rearterialization, size reduction techniques, etc.). The major aim of this literature review is to give the reader a current overview of rat orthotopic liver transplantation models with a special focus on partial liver transplantation. The aspects of model evolution, microsurgical training, and different technical problems are analyzed and discussed in detail. Our further aim in this paper is to elaborate a detailed publication guide in order to improve the quality of reporting in the field of rat liver transplantation according to the ARRIVE guidelines and the 3R principle. Key Messages: Partial orthotopic liver transplantation in rats is an indispensable, reliable, and cost-efficient model for transplantation research. A certain consensus on different technical issues and a significant improvement in scientific reporting are essential to improve transparency and comparability in this field as well as to foster refinement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Microsurgery / education
  • Models, Animal*
  • Publications
  • Rats / surgery*