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Animal Model Choice Critical to Diet Impact on Preclinical Disease Studies

Animal Model Choice Critical to Diet Impact on Preclinical Disease Studies

The Western diet is the primary reason that early forms of atherosclerosis are present in North American individuals by age 30. Known as the hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis occurs when excess fat (cholesterol) and calcium attach to the artery’s inner lining and form a substance called plaque. As the individual ages, plaque buildup narrows the artery and blocks blood flow, eventually leading to coronary artery disease, heart attack or stroke.

“Diet quality can influence disease progression. Nonhuman primate models on a specialized human diet unmask disease processes not revealed when fed commercial diets containing bioactive substances.”

– Susan E. Appt, D.V.M., Assistant Professor, Pathology – Comparative Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine

Preclinical Nutrition and Diet Laboratory

Over the past 40 years, scientists at Wake Forest have worked on identifying suitable animal models and providing specialized diets for animal studies. Today more than 45 different specialized diets are used in studies in nonhuman primates, rodents and rabbits, etc. For example, North American (or Western) diets are prepared for nonhuman primates to mimic the nutritional context within which human disease can develop.

Using Animal Models to Define the Relationship between Diet and Disease

Determining suitable animal models and experimental conditions that provide data predictive of human use is a challenge. Will an intervention have beneficial effects when administered to human patients? The answer to that question is critical. Preclinical Translational Services at Wake Forest offers extensive experience in spontaneous and induced nonhuman primate models with specifically prepared diets, together with the infrastructure to capture imaging and surgical endpoints. Effects are revealed and compound assessment is accelerated as safety information predictive of human trials is obtained during efficacy examination.

For more information or to schedule an exploratory meeting, contact Preclinical Translational Services at or +1.336.713.1111.