Prof. Dr. Brigitte von Rechenberg

Foto Brigitte von Rechenberg

Musculoskeletal Research Unit (MSRU),
Vetsuisse Faculty,
University of Zurich


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The MSRU is a group dealing mostly with problems related to musculoskeletal diseases (bone, cartilage and spine). The MSRU is a GLP Accredited Facility for conducting preclinical animal studies.

The head, Prof. Dr. med. vet. Brigitte von Rechenberg is a Board Certified veterinary surgeon (Dipl. ECVS) specialized in small animal surgery and there, in trauma and orthopedics. She has extensive experience in clinical and experimental animal surgery, and for the latter in sheep, where she has operated > 6000 sheep for different research projects. Her main research interest is based on bone and cartilage research focusing on mechanisms of cartilage remodeling and resurfacing and substitutes for cartilage and bone. In this area she has completed and published several research projects, where osteochondral plugs were used as cartilage replacement. In addition she is engaged in several projects related to the spine, such as vertebroplasty, disc degeneration and posterolateral fusion. As for bone and cartilage substitutes, she has studied the use of various biomaterials in conjunction with bone enhancing factors as well as basic mechanisms of cell signaling and interaction between bone resorption/ formation. In her basic research she has focused on the importance of subchondral bone on cartilage remodeling and inflammatory processes within bone leading to pathological bone resorption. She is also an expert in bone histology and her laboratory has specialized on bone and cartilage histology using methods with nondecalcified specimens, routine paraffin histology and immunhistochemistry.

Apart from the scientific background and interest, the MSRU also has the facilities and infrastructure to conduct the animal experiments. Modern and suitable operation rooms, full surgical equipment and animal stables are available, as well as necessary recovery systems for animals after surgery to protect the operated limbs or spine. In addition, anesthesia of sheep is routine and is conducted by Board certified veterinary anesthesiologists. Suitable radiology and other modern diagnostic imaging technology is available within the hospital, such that animals can also be followed during their clinical recovery. The MSRU consists of 20 coworkers, of which 5 are technicians for animal care, bone histology and immunohistochemistry, 1 PhD student, 5 senior scientists and 9 doctorate students (veterinarians). Animals will be taken from the institutions own sheep herd (ca. 350 sheep), which are managed with high expert veterinary care on a continuous basis.

Prof. Brigitte von Rechenberg was co-founder and head of the Steering Committee of the Competence Center of Applied Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine (CABMM) from 2008 until 2018, where tissue engineering and molecular medicine is one of the center core skills.

Technical Expertise:

  • In the fields of Musculoskeletal research (bone & cartilage, tendon, spine & disc)
  • Soft tissue research (cardiovascular, wound healing)
  • Cranio-maxillofacial surgery and implantology

Histology laboratory:

  • Decalcified, paraffin-embedded histology (different stainings, immunohistochemistry)
  • Non decalcified, plastic-embedded histology (different stainings)
  • Ground sections (quantitative histology, e.g. histomorphormetry)
  • Thin sections (qualitative histology)
  • Cryosections: We also collaborate closely with the Laboratory for Animal Pathology LAMP, a specialist core facility to assist research in relevant, generic areas of laboratory/experimental animal morphology and pathology. LAMP has particular expertise in the histology and immunohistology of soft/decalcified tissues and transmission electron microscopy. It also provides digital scanning and morphometry services and maintains a laser microdissection facility for shared use.

GLP accreditation: The MSRU is able to conduct studies in compliance with the principles of Good Laboratory Practice