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Bernau, Maren; Liesner, Bernd Grosse; Schwanitz, Sebastian; Kraus, Ann-Sophie; Falkenau, Almuth; Leipig-Rudolph, Miriam; Hermanns, Walter and Scholz, Armin Manfred (2018): Vaccine safety testing using magnetic resonance imaging in suckling pigs. In: Vaccine, Vol. 36, No. 13: pp. 1789-1795

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Safety testing is one major part of the licensing procedure for veterinary vaccines and demands a large number of animals. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was tested as an alternative, which may lead to a reduction in numbers of animals required for safety testing, and, correspondingly to a detailed description of the three-dimensional extent of the local tissue reaction repetitively in live pigs. In previous pig studies the following questions arose: (1) Can MRI be used in suckling pigs in terms of safety testing? (2) Does the injection of 2 ml saline solution lead to a volume effect resulting in tissue alterations comparable to a vaccine response? (3) Is the local reaction size affected by the tattoo marking of the injection point for the final pathomorphologic examination? To answer these questions the following study was performed by comparing two vaccine groups of suckling piglets (8 animals per group;A and B) with two control groups (4 animals per group;C and D). One control group was injected with a saline solution (C) and the other was only tattoo marked (D). The animals were examined using MRI at days 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, 36, and 43 post vaccination, ending with a final pathomorphologic examination. Pathomorphologic examination confirmed MRI findings. Saline solution does not result in a local tissue reaction as detected after injecting vaccines. Tattoo marking causes no local tissue reaction, neither in MRI nor in pathomorphologic examination. Therefore, MRI can be used as an alternative method for safety testing of vaccines in pigs of different age categories offering repetitive measurements of local tissue reactions. Involved cells might be examined only in a final pathomorphologic examination at the end of the trial on a reduced number of animals.

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