Swine models in the design of more effective medical countermeasures against organophosphorus poisoning

F Dorandeu, J R Mikler, H Thiermann, C Tenn, C Davidson, T W Sawyer, G Lallement, F Worek
Toxicology 2007 April 20, 233 (1): 128-44
Although the three most commonly used large mammal species in the safety assessment of drugs remain the dog, the macaque and the marmoset, swine, especially minipigs, have also been widely used over the years in many toxicological studies. Swine present a number of interesting biological and physiological characteristics. Similarities in skin properties with humans have led to extensive in vitro and in vivo studies. There is a specific interest in cardiovascular research, as well as in anaesthesiology and critical care medicine due to common features of swine and human physiology. Although knowledge of swine brain structure and functions remains incomplete, data does exist. The multiple blood sampling that is necessary in pharmacokinetic and toxicokinetic studies are possible, as well as multiparametric monitoring and interventions with equipment used in human clinical settings. Practicality (handling), scientific (stress reduction) and ethical (invasive monitoring) reasons have led research teams to incorporate anaesthesia into their paradigms which makes the analysis of data increasingly difficult. Although not substantiated by scientific data, the swine appears to have an intermediate position in the scale of public perception between non-human primates and animals commonly referred to as pets (i.e. dogs and cats) and rodents. The benefits of the swine model justify the use of these animals in the design of more effective medical countermeasures against known chemical warfare agents (nerve agents, vesicants and lung damaging agents). Exposure to organophosphorus (OP) pesticides represents a severe health issue in developing countries, while OP intoxication with the more lethal military nerve agents is not only of military concern but also a terrorist threat. Tailoring therapeutic regimens to the reality of OP poisoning is of the utmost importance when little experimental data and sparse human clinical data are available in the decision making process. We will present some of the advantages and disadvantages of the swine model in OP countermeasures elaborating on two examples. First, we will present the issues related to the use of anaesthesia during experimental OP poisoning and second we will show how results from experiments with swine can be integrated into a kinetic-based dynamic model to evaluate oxime efficacy. A better knowledge of OP poisoning in swine (comparative toxicokinetics, pharmacokinetics and biochemistry) is definitely necessary before accepting it as a first choice non-rodent model. However, there exists a large amount of data in the model on anaesthesia and different types of shock favouring their use for evaluation of complex situations such as the anaesthesia of OP poisoned patients and combined injuries.

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