Chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane model systems to study and visualize human tumor cell metastasis

Histochem Cell Biol. 2008 Dec;130(6):1119-30. doi: 10.1007/s00418-008-0536-2. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


Since their introduction almost a century ago, chick embryo model systems involving the technique of chorioallantoic grafting have proved invaluable in the in vivo studies of tumor development and angiogenesis and tumor cell dissemination. The ability of the chick embryo's chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) to efficiently support the growth of inoculated xenogenic tumor cells greatly facilitates analysis of human tumor cell metastasis. During spontaneous metastasis, the highly vascularized CAM sustains rapid tumor formation within several days following cell grafting. The dense capillary network of the CAM also serves as a repository of aggressive tumor cells that escaped from the primary tumor and intravasated into the host vasculature. This spontaneous metastasis setting provides a unique experimental model to study in vivo the intravasation step of the metastatic cascade. During experimental metastasis when tumor cells are inoculated intravenously, the CAM capillary system serves as a place for initial arrest and then, for tumor cell extravasation and colonization. The tissue composition and accessibility of the CAM for experimental interventions makes chick embryo CAM systems attractive models to follow the fate and visualize microscopically the behavior of grafted tumor cells in both spontaneous and experimental metastasis settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chorioallantoic Membrane / blood supply*
  • Chorioallantoic Membrane / immunology
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Models, Animal
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic