Khalajzeyqami, Z., Grandi, A., Ferrini, E. et al. 2022. Pivotal role of micro-CT technology in setting up an optimized lung fibrosis mouse model for drug screening. PLoS ONE 17(6), e0270005.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive disease with no curative pharmacological treatment. The most used animal model of IPF for anti-fibrotic drug screening is bleomycin (BLM)-induced lung fibrosis. However, several issues have been reported: the balance among disease resolution, an appropriate time window for therapeutic intervention and animal welfare remain critical aspects yet to be fully elucidated. In this study, C57Bl/6 male mice were treated with BLM via oropharyngeal aspiration (OA) following either double or triple administration. The fibrosis progression was longitudinally assessed by micro-CT every 7 days for 4 weeks after BLM administration. Quantitative micro-CT measurements highlighted that triple BLM administration was the ideal dose regimen to provoke sustained lung fibrosis up to 28 days. These results were corroborated with lung histology and Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid cells. We have developed a mouse model with prolonged lung fibrosis enabling three weeks of a curative therapeutic window for the screening of putative anti-fibrotic drugs. Moreover, we have demonstrated the pivotal role of longitudinal micro-CT imaging in reducing the number of animals required per experiment in which each animal can be its own control. This approach permits a valuable decrease in costs and time to develop disease animal models.