In vivo animal models of spinal metastasis
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The vertebral column is the commonest site for skeletal metastases, with breast, prostate and lung cancers being the most common primary sources. The spine has structural and neural-protective properties thus involvement by metastatic cancer often causes bony instability and fracture, intractable pain and neurological deficit. In vivo animal models which resemble the human condition are essential in order to improve understanding of the pathophysiology behind the spread of metastatic cancer to the spine and its subsequent local growth and invasion, to enable in-depth analysis of the interaction between host and tumour cells and the molecular processes behind local cancer invasion and barriers to invasion as well as to allow assessment of novel treatment modalities for spinal metastases. This review summarizes the current status of the animal models specifically used for the study of spinal metastasis, their relevance, advantages and limitations, and important considerations for the development of future in vivo animal models.