Experimental liver fibrosis research: Update on animal models, legal issues and translational aspects

Christian Liedtke, Tom Luedde, Tilman Sauerbruch, David Scholten, Konrad Streetz, Frank Tacke, René Tolba, Christian Trautwein, Jonel Trebicka, Ralf Weiskirchen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


Liver fibrosis is defined as excessive extracellular matrix deposition and is based on complex interactions between matrix-producing hepatic stellate cells and an abundance of liver-resident and infiltrating cells. Investigation of these processes requires in vitro and in vivo experimental work in animals. However, the use of animals in translational research will be increasingly challenged, at least in countries of the European Union, because of the adoption of new animal welfare rules in 2013. These rules will create an urgent need for optimized standard operating procedures regarding animal experimentation and improved international communication in the liver fibrosis community. This review gives an update on current animal models, techniques and underlying pathomechanisms with the aim of fostering a critical discussion of the limitations and potential of up-to-date animal experimentation. We discuss potential complications in experimental liver fibrosis and provide examples of how the findings of studies in which these models are used can be translated to human disease and therapy. In this review, we want to motivate the international community to design more standardized animal models which might help to address the legally requested replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in fibrosis research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
JournalFibrogenesis and Tissue Repair
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal models
  • Animal welfare
  • Cholestasis
  • Cirrhosis
  • EU-Directive 2010/63
  • Fibrosis
  • Hepatic stellate cells
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver immunology
  • Translational medicine


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