Comparative wound healing—Are the small animal veterinarian's clinical patients an improved translational model for human wound healing research?


  • Susan W. Volk VMD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Clinical Studies and Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Mark W. Bohling DVM, PhD

    1. College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tennessee
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Dr. S. W. Volk, Department of Clinical Studies and Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania, 312 Hill Pavilion, 380 S. University Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4539, USA.

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Despite intensive research efforts into understanding the pathophysiology of both chronic wounds and scar formation, and the development of wound care strategies to target both healing extremes, problematic wounds in human health care remain a formidable challenge. Although valuable fundamental information regarding the pathophysiology of problematic wounds can be gained from in vitro investigations and in vivo studies performed in laboratory animal models, the lack of concordance with human pathophysiology has been cited as a major impediment to translational research in human wound care. Therefore, the identification of superior clinical models for both chronic wounds and scarring disorders should be a high priority for scientists who work in the field of human wound healing research. To be successful, translational wound healing research should function as an intellectual ecosystem in which information flows from basic science researchers using in vitro and in vivo models to clinicians and back again from the clinical investigators to the basic scientists. Integral to the efficiency of this process is the incorporation of models which can accurately predict clinical success. The aim of this review is to describe the potential advantages and limitations of using clinical companion animals (primarily dogs and cats) as translational models for cutaneous wound healing research by describing comparative aspects of wound healing in these species, common acute and chronic cutaneous wounds in clinical canine and feline patients, and the infrastructure that currently exists in veterinary medicine which may facilitate translational studies and simultaneously benefit both veterinary and human wound care patients.