Experimental Model Development

Experimental Model Development, Translational Pharmacology

Histamine-Induced Conjunctivitis and Breakdown of Blood–Tear Barrier in Dogs: A Model for Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics


Mild - Moderate - Severe conjunctivitis

Conjunctival inflammation disturbs the blood–tear barrier and thus affects the tear film stability and composition. We aimed to develop a non-invasive and reliable method to induce conjunctivitis in dogs, a large animal model for translational work on ocular surface disease in humans. Six beagle dogs underwent a randomized, vehicle-controlled, balanced crossover trial—on six separate days, one eye received topical artificial tears (vehicle), while the other eye received one of six concentrations of histamine solution (0.005–500 mg/ml). At sequential times after eyedrop administration, a conjunctivitis score was given to each eye based on the degree of palpebral and bulbar conjunctival hyperemia and chemosis, ocular pruritus, and discharge. Total protein content (TPC) and serum albumin were quantified in tear fluid at baseline and 20 min. Additionally, 13 dogs presenting for various ophthalmic diseases with associated conjunctivitis were examined. Experimentally induced conjunctivitis developed rapidly (<1 min) following topical histamine administration and lasted for 1–3 h (four lowest doses) to 6–8 h (two highest doses). The severity of conjunctivitis was dose-dependent. Histamine was overall well tolerated, although transient blepharitis, aqueous flare, and ocular hypertension occurred in a few dogs receiving histamine ≥375 mg/ml. TPC and serum albumin levels increased in tears of eyes receiving histamine ≥1.0 mg/ml, being significantly higher than vehicle and baseline in eyes receiving histamine ≥375 mg/ml. Lacrimal albumin levels were also increased in 13 dogs with naturally acquired conjunctivitis, up 2.7–14.9 fold compared to contralateral healthy eyes. Histamine-induced conjunctivitis represents a robust model for translational work on the ocular surface given the low cost, non-invasiveness, self-resolving nature, ability to adjust the duration and severity of the disease, and shared features with naturally occurring ocular diseases. Histamine solutions of 1, 10, and 375 mg/ml induce mild, moderate, and severe conjunctivitis in dogs, respectively. Leakage of serum albumin in tear fluid of eyes with conjunctivitis suggests a breakdown of the blood–tear barrier.

Experimental Model Development

Stem Cell-Derived Organoids as a Preclinical Experimental Model for Drug R&D

Recent advances in our understanding of the intestinal stem cell niche and the role of key signaling pathways on cell growth and maintenance have allowed the development of fully differentiated epithelial cells in 3D organoids. Stem cell-derived organoids carry significant levels of proteins that are natively expressed in the gut and have important roles in drug transport and metabolism. They are, therefore, particularly relevant to study the gastrointestinal (GI) absorption of oral medications. In addition, organoids have the potential to serve as a robust preclinical model for demonstrating the effectiveness of new drugs more rapidly, with more certainty, and at lower costs compared with live animal studies. Importantly, because they are derived from individuals with different genotypes, environmental risk factors and drug sensitivity profiles, organoids are a highly relevant screening system for personalized therapy in both human and veterinary medicine. Lastly, and in the context of patient-specific congenital diseases, orthotopic transplantation of engineered organoids could repair and/or replace damaged epithelial tissues reported in various GI diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, and tuft enteropathy. Ongoing translational research on organoids derived from dogs with naturally occurring digestive disorders has the potential to improve the predictability of preclinical models used for optimizing the therapeutic management of severe chronic enteropathies in human patients