Preclinical tendon and ligament models: Beyond the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, and refinement) to 5W1H (why, who, what, where, when, how)

Dianne Little, Peter C. Amadio, Hani A. Awad, Stephanie G. Cone, Nathaniel A. Dyment, Matthew B. Fisher, Alice H. Huang, Drew W. Koch, Andrew F. Kuntz, Rashad Madi, Kirk McGilvray, Lauren V. Schnabel, Snehal S. Shetye, Stavros Thomopoulos, Chunfeng Zhao, Louis J. Soslowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Several tendon and ligament animal models were presented at the 2022 Orthopaedic Research Society Tendon Section Conference held at the University of Pennsylvania, May 5 to 7, 2022. A key objective of the breakout sessions at this meeting was to develop guidelines for the field, including for preclinical tendon and ligament animal models. This review summarizes the perspectives of experts for eight surgical small and large animal models of rotator cuff tear, flexor tendon transection, anterior cruciate ligament tear, and Achilles tendon injury using the framework: “Why, Who, What, Where, When, and How” (5W1H). A notable conclusion is that the perfect tendon model does not exist; there is no single gold standard animal model that represents the totality of tendon and ligament disease. Each model has advantages and disadvantages and should be carefully considered in light of the specific research question. There are also circumstances when an animal model is not the best approach. The wide variety of tendon and ligament pathologies necessitates choices between small and large animal models, different anatomic sites, and a range of factors associated with each model during the planning phase. Attendees agreed on some guiding principles including: providing clear justification for the model selected, providing animal model details at publication, encouraging sharing of protocols and expertise, improving training of research personnel, and considering greater collaboration with veterinarians. A clear path for translating from animal models to clinical practice was also considered as a critical next step for accelerating progress in the tendon and ligament field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2133-2162
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • anterior cruciate ligament
  • calcaneal tendon
  • flexor tendon
  • rotator cuff
  • tendinopathy


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