The piglet brain is a powerful model system when studying human brain development because it displays a highly evolved gyrencephalic neocortex. Furthermore, similar to humans, approximately 50% of the piglet brain volume is represented by white matter. We have previously demonstrated that the maturation pattern in porcine white matter displays a similar progression to human white matter. In addition, our studies have shown that the characteristics of neurogenic niche in the piglet brain closely resemble its human counterpart.
The piglet shares more metabolic/physiological similarities to humans than other mammals, therefore, the model is highly translational to develop new therapeutic approaches in the human patient. Finally, the piglet is large enough in the newborn period for investigation using cardiopulmonary bypass. Our team uses this model to investigate the effects of chronic hypoxia and neonatal cardiac surgery.