Large animal models are required for preclinical prevention and intervention studies related to osteoporosis research. The challenging aspect of this requirement is that no single animal model exactly mimics the progression of this human-specific chronic condition. There are pros and cons associated with the skeletal, hormonal, and metabolic conditions of each species that influence their relevance and applicability to human physiology. Of all larger mammalian species, nonhuman primates (NHPs) are preeminent in terms of replicating important aspects of human physiology. However, NHPs are very expensive, putting them out of reach of the vast majority of researchers. Practical, cost-effective alternatives to NHPs are sought after among ungulate (porcine, caprine, and ovine) and canine species that are the focus of this review. The overriding caveat to using large lower-order species is to take the time in advance to understand and appreciate the limitations and strengths of each animal model. Under these circumstances, experiments can be strategically designed to optimize the potential of an animal to develop the cardinal features of postmenopausal bone loss and/or yield information of relevance to treatment.
- Animal models
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