Background: The awareness of factors causing obesity and associated disorders has grown
up in the last years from genome to a more complicated concept (developmental programming) in
which prenatal and early-postnatal conditions markedly modify the phenotype and homeostasis of the
individuals and determine juvenile growth, life-time fitness/obesity and disease risks.
Method: Experimentation in human beings is impeded by ethical issues plus inherent high variability
and confounding factors (genetics, lifestyle and socioeconomic heterogeneity) and preclinical studies
in adequate translational animal models are therefore decisive. Most of the studies have been performed
in rodents, whilst the use of large animals is scarce. Having in mind body-size, handlingeasiness
and cost-efficiency, the main large animal species for use in biomedical research are rabbits,
sheep and swine. The choice of the model depends on the research objectives.
Aims: To outline the main features of the use of rabbits, sheep and swine and their contributions as
translational models in prenatal programming of obesity and associated disorders.