The transverse aortic constriction (TAC) model is frequently used to study adverse cardiac remodeling upon pressure overload. We set out to define the most important characteristics that define the degree of cardiac remodeling in this model. A systematic review and meta-analyses were performed on studies using the TAC mouse/rat model and reporting echocardiographic outcome parameters. We included all animal studies in which a constriction around the transverse aorta and at least one of the predefined echocardiography or MRI outcome parameters were assessed. A total of 502 articles and > 3000 wild-type, untreated animals undergoing TAC were included in this study and referenced to a control group. The duration of aortic constriction correlated to the degree of adverse remodeling. However, the mouse data is strongly biased by the preferential use of male C57Bl/6 mice (66% of studies). Furthermore, mostly ketamine/xylazine anesthetics, 27G needle constriction, and silk sutures are used. Nonetheless, despite the homogeneity in experimental design, the model contained a substantial degree of heterogeneity in the functional outcome measures. When looking at study quality, only 12% reported randomization, 23% mentioned any sort of blinding, 25% adequately addressed the outcomes, and an amazingly low percentage (2%) showed sample size calculation. Meta-analyses did not detect specific study characteristics that explained the heterogeneity in the reported outcome measures, however this might be related to the strong bias towards the use of specific mouse lines, sex as well as age or to poor reporting of characteristics of study quality.
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