Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 33, Issue 2–3, pp 721–735 | Cite as

Mimicking breast cancer-induced bone metastasis in vivo: current transplantation models and advanced humanized strategies

  • Laure Thibaudeau
  • Verena M. Quent
  • Boris M. Holzapfel
  • Anna V. Taubenberger
  • Melanie Straub
  • Dietmar W. Hutmacher


Bone metastasis is a complication that occurs in 80 % of women with advanced breast cancer. Despite the prevalence of bone metastatic disease, the avenues for its clinical management are still restricted to palliative treatment options. In fact, the underlying mechanisms of breast cancer osteotropism have not yet been fully elucidated due to a lack of suitable in vivo models that are able to recapitulate the human disease. In this work, we review the current transplantation-based models to investigate breast cancer-induced bone metastasis and delineate the strengths and limitations of the use of different grafting techniques, tissue sources, and hosts. We further show that humanized xenograft models incorporating human cells or tissue grafts at the primary tumor site or the metastatic site mimic more closely the human disease. Tissue-engineered constructs are emerging as a reproducible alternative to recapitulate functional humanized tissues in these murine models. The development of advanced humanized animal models may provide better platforms to investigate the mutual interactions between human cancer cells and their microenvironment and ultimately improve the translation of preclinical drug trials to the clinic.


Bone metastasis Breast cancer Osteotropism Humanized xenograft model Tissue engineering 



Some figures were produced using the image bank at with permission from Servier Medical Art. The work presented by the authors is supported by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council. A.V.T. and B.M.H. are supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG HO 5068/1-1 to B.M.H.).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laure Thibaudeau
    • 1
  • Verena M. Quent
    • 2
  • Boris M. Holzapfel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Anna V. Taubenberger
    • 1
    • 4
  • Melanie Straub
    • 5
  • Dietmar W. Hutmacher
    • 1
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Regenerative Medicine Group, Institute of Health and Biomedical InnovationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity Hospital Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Orthopedic Center for Musculoskeletal ResearchUniversity of WuerzburgWuerzburgGermany
  4. 4.Biotec TU DresdenDresdenGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Pathology, Technical University MunichMunichGermany
  6. 6.George W Woodruff School of Mechanical EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  7. 7.Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University MunichGarchingGermany

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