Piglet Experiments

Piglet Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PNICU)

The piglet is an animal model with increasing importance in translational and clinical research. Its similar anatomy and physiology, growth, and metabolism make it an excellent animal model for the human neonate. We can address questions for the human neonate by collecting biological fluids and tissues samples in the piglet that are difficult to collect in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We conduct our piglet experiments by simulating the NICU in every way possible in our own Piglet Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PNICU). This includes providing 24-hour care, pulse oximeter monitoring, nutritional support, scoring systems, and many other aspects of the NICU. In order to ensure well-functioning experiments, all members involved in piglet experiments follow our standard operating procedures (SOPs). To view the SOPs used in our Ketogenic Piglet Experiments, click the desired group of SOPs:



Survival Surgery

24 Hour Care

Non-Survival Surgery

Investigating Comorbidities found in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

In the NICU, there are questions that cannot be investigated further, due to techniques that are unethical or too invasive. With the piglet model we have the opportunity to investigate those questions further in an environment that closely simulates that of the physiological state of the patient as well as the NICU. We are currently working on this by developing a preterm piglet model that experiences several of the comorbidities and stresses experienced by preterm neonates in the NICU. This may include exposure to relative hyperoxia/hypoxia, seizures, lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity, and many other diseases and stresses. In the fall of 2010, our lab became the first to keep a 87% gestation piglet alive for nine days. The piglet underwent survival surgery, was kept on mechanical ventilation, and experienced weight gain on parenteral nutrition. We were able to repeat the experiment in January of 2011 and keep the piglet alive for 6 days. We plan on refining this preterm animal model and hope to use it to investigate the preterm comorbidities, especially those associated with the brain.

Inside the PNICU

The picture below shows the setup for our infant incubator, mechanical ventilator, pulse oximeter, nutrition pump, and thermometer. The mechanical ventilator, pulse oximeter, and nutrition pump are the same as those used in Shands Hospital. Outlined in the slides on the wall are descriptions of our various scoring techniques to assess piglet health and well-being.

Piglets are provided 24-hour care with members of lab constantly monitoring for parameters such as peripheral oxygen saturation and pulse rate, breathing measurements as recorded on the ventilator, excretions, nutrition, color, movement and body temperature.

Clinical Implications

There are a myriad of implications for the term and preterm piglet models. Our current aspiration is to investigate the possibility of delivering the Ketogenic Therapy to a preterm neonate who is experiencing seizures soon after birth. Seizures are very damaging to the brain, especially a brain that is immature at birth. Seizures at a young age can lead to mental impairments, which we clearly see in our patients at the General Clinical Research Center at Shands Hospital. Our philosophy is simple: disease prevention as the future of healthcare.


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Dr. Peggy R. Borum
University of Florida
FSHN Department
P. O. Box #110370
Gainesville, FL 32611-0370

409A FSHN Bldg
Newell Drive
UF Campus

Phone: 352-392-7553
Fax: 352-392-8957


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