Research using animal models of asthma is currently dominated by mouse models. This has been driven by the comprehensive knowledge on inflammatory and immune reactions in mice, as well as tools to produce genetically modified mice. Many of the identified therapeutic targets influencing airway hyper-responsiveness and inflammation in mouse models, have however been disappointing when tested clinically in asthma. It is therefore a great need for new animal models that more closely resemble human asthma. The Guinea pig has for decades been used in asthma research and a comprehensive table of different protocols for asthma models is presented. The studies have primarily been focused on the pharmacological aspects of the disease, where the Guinea pig undoubtedly is superior to mice. Further reasons are the anatomical and physiological similarities between human and Guinea pig airways compared with that of the mouse, especially with respect to airway branching, neurophysiology, pulmonary circulation and smooth muscle distribution, as well as mast cell localization and mediator secretion. Lack of reagents and specific molecular tools to study inflammatory and immunological reactions in the Guinea pig has however greatly diminished its use in asthma research. The aim in this position paper is to review and summarize what we know about different aspects of the use of Guinea pig in vivo models for asthma research. The associated aim is to highlight the unmet needs that have to be addressed in the future.
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