Rabbits


BHF funded researchers at the University of Glasgow experimented on 27 healthy New Zealand white rabbits1. One group of 11 rabbits were anaesthetised and had a major artery supplying their hearts tied off to mimic a serious heart attack. A group of 4 rabbits were also anaesthetised and had their chest opened but their hearts were not damaged. The third group of "control" rabbits were not anaesthetised or operated on. Eight weeks later all rabbits were killed and their hearts studied.

Rabbits' hearts are much smaller and beat much faster than humans' and there are other physiological differences2 which make it difficult to draw accurate conclusions from this experiment.

In March 2015 a leaked internal training manual for animal experimenters in Scottish laboratories was obtained by the charity Scotland For Animals. Photos, many of which appear to have been taken in the University of Glasgow, show animals in highly distressing situations and using "brutal killing and restraint methods".

Heart-damaged rabbits have showed improvements when injected with bone marrow or muscle stem cells. Human trials with these cells have
been universally disappointing. Irrelevant experiments have also been conducted on rabbits using fibroblasts3.


1. Myles RC, Burton FL, Cobbe SM et al (2011). Alternans of action potential duration and amplitude in rabbits with left ventricular dysfunction following myocardial infarction. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 50(3):510-21

2. Animal Aid Victims of Charity report p. 22

3. Dimmeler S, Zeiher AM, Schneider MD (2005). Unchain my heart: the scientific foundations of cardiac repair. J. Clin. Invest. 115:572-583