Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a rare, autosomal dominant disease with variable clinical presentations. Large animal models are useful to help dissect molecular mechanisms, determine relevant biomarkers, and develop effective therapeutics. Here, we studied a NF1 minipig model (NF1+/ex42del) for the first 12 months of life to evaluate phenotype development, track disease progression, and provide a comparison to human subjects. Through systematic evaluation, we have shown that compared to littermate controls, the NF1 model develops phenotypic characteristics of human NF1:  café-au-lait macules,  axillary/inguinal freckling,  shortened stature,  tibial bone curvature, and  neurofibroma. At 4 months, full body computed tomography imaging detected significantly smaller long bones in NF1+/ex42del minipigs compared to controls, indicative of shorter stature. We found quantitative evidence of tibial bowing in a subpopulation of NF1 minipigs. By 8 months, an NF1+/ex42del boar developed a large diffuse shoulder neurofibroma, visualized on magnetic resonance imaging, which subsequently grew in size and depth as the animal aged up to 20 months. The NF1+/ex42del minipig model progressively demonstrates signature attributes that parallel clinical manifestations seen in humans and provides a viable tool for future translational NF1 research.
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