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Animal Models of Secondary Lymphedema for Traditional Chinese Medicine Research

Bowen Yu, Xiaohua Pei, Yingyi Fan, Chunhui Wang

Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China (mainland)

Med Sci Rev 2017; 4:20-31

DOI: 10.12659/MSRev.906731

Available online:

Published: 2017-10-30


ABSTRACT: Secondary lymphedema is a well-known complication most commonly caused by oncologic surgery and radiation. Unfortunately, current treatment methods are limited to physiotherapeutic interventions that mainly reduce edema volume, which only provides partial relief of edema and cannot guarantee the prevention of long-term irreversible fibrosis. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been shown to be a promising alternative in treating secondary lymphedema. Several types of medicines have been proven to be effective in clinical use, but lack of evaluation and verification in experimental animal studies hinder the standardization and the wider use of TCM. This review summarized recent progress in animal studies of secondary lymphedema, including dogs, rabbits, rodents, and large animals. Additionally, the limitations and potential applications are also discussed in this article. In conclusion, the rodent hind limb model appears to be the best animal model for TCM research. It can, therefore, be used as an investigative platform to assess and evaluate candidate TCM therapies, such as Chinese materia medica and formula. There is also a growing need for standardized parameters in experimental lymphedema quantification.

Keywords: lymphedema, Medicine, Chinese Traditional, Models, Animal