Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), characterized by airflow limitation and manifested as emphysema and chronic airway obstruction, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, resulting in an economic and social burden that is both substantial and increasing. The natural history of COPD involves systemic manifestations, such as skeletal muscle wasting and cardiovascular impairment, and frequent exacerbations. The latter are caused by bacterial or viral infections and have major implications for patients and healthcare systems. There are no effective therapies to prevent or reverse these events. Smoking cessation remains the most effective intervention for reducing disease progression. Animal models of COPD and of COPD exacerbations have been developed to advance understanding of the pathogenesis of COPD and the role of infections in its severity. Cigarette
smoke exposure, tracheal instillation of elastase, and genetic manipulation are commonly used to reproduce baseline COPD conditions, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Intratracheal instillation of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), bacteria, or viruses are the most common interventions used to exacerbate baseline COPD. This review highlights the three major animal models used for induction of emphysema and its exacerbations. Further exploration of these models should facilitate identification of new therapeutic approaches for COPD.
Milena Vasconcellos de Oliveira, Pedro Leme Silva, Patricia Rieken Macedo Rocco