Repository logo

Models of Intrauterine growth restriction and fetal programming in rabbits.

Accepted version

No Thumbnail Available



Change log


Lopez-Tello, Jorge 
Arias-Alvarez, Maria 
Gonzalez-Bulnes, Antonio 
Sferuzzi-Perri, Amanda N 


Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) affects approximately 10% of human pregnancies globally and has immediate and life-long consequences for offspring health. However, the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of IUGR and its association with later health and disease outcomes are poorly understood. To address these knowledge gaps, the use of experimental animals is critically important. Since the 50's different environmental, pharmacological, and surgical manipulations have been performed in the rabbit to improve our knowledge of the control of fetal growth, fetal responses to IUGR, and mechanisms by which offspring may be programmed by an adverse gestational environment. The purpose of this review is therefore to summarize the utility of the rabbit as a model for IUGR research. It first summarizes the knowledge of prenatal and postnatal development in the rabbit and how these events relate to developmental milestones in humans. It then describes the methods used to induce IUGR in rabbits and the knowledge gained about the mechanisms determining prenatal and postnatal outcomes of the offspring. Finally, it discusses the application of state of the art approaches in the rabbit, including high-resolution ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and gene targeting, to gain a deeper integrative understanding of the physiological and molecular events governing the development of IUGR. Overall, we hope to engage and inspire investigators to employ the rabbit as a model organism when studying pregnancy physiology so that we may advance our understanding of mechanisms underlying IUGR and its consequences in humans and other mammalian species.



animal models, fetal programming, intrauterine growth restriction, placenta, pregnancy, rabbit, translational medicine, Animals, Disease Models, Animal, Fetal Growth Retardation, Fetus, Humans, Rabbits

Journal Title

Molecular Reproduction and Development

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title





All rights reserved
The Royal Society (dh130036)
Academy of Medical Sciences (8150)
Medical Research Council (MR/R022690/1)