This pilot study aimed to maintain acceptable animal welfare in the development of a porcine autotransplantation model with severe and incremental renal ischemic injury, a model for usage in future intervention studies. Secondary aims were to develop and test methods to collect blood and urine without the need to restrain or use sedative and avoid transportation to optimize welfare of the pig.
Kidneys from 7 female pigs were subjected to incremental durations of warm ischemia (WI) 30, 45, or 75 minutes by left renal artery and vein clamping. After static cold storage, contralateral nephrectomy was performed, and the injured graft was autotransplanted and animals observed for 14 days. Animal welfare was assessed and recorded using a structured scoring sheet before and 4 days after the kidney autotransplantation. Furthermore, blood samples were drawn daily the first week and every second day the following week using a semi-central venous catheter. An ostomy bag around the genitals was tested for urine collection. Measured glomerular filtration rate was calculated using renal clearance of chromium-51-labeled ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid on day 14.
None of the 7 animals died during the follow-up. The animal welfare was moderately affected when applying 75 minutes of WI (n = 2), and for that reason WI was not further increased. Pigs with lower WI had no observed welfare issues. With 75 minutes of WI peak, plasma creatinine was 1486 and 1317 µmol/L, reached on day 4. Lowest glomerular filtration rate levels were observed in the pigs with 75 minutes of WI.