Animal models of cancer in the head and neck region

Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Jun;2(2):55-60. doi: 10.3342/ceo.2009.2.2.55. Epub 2009 Jun 27.


Animal models that resemble the cancers of the head and neck region are of paramount importance in studying the carcinogenesis of these diseases. Although several methods for modeling cancer in the head and neck are available, none are fully satisfactory. Subcutaneous xenograft models of cancer in nude mice are often used in preclinical studies. However, these models are problematic in several aspects as they lack the specific interactions that exist between the tumor cells and their native environment. Establishment of tumors at the orthotopic sites restore these distinct patterns of interactions between the tumor and the host organs that are lost or altered when the tumors are established in ectopic sites. With regard to the transgenic model of cancer in the head and neck region, it should be kept in mind that the transgene used to drive the malignant transformation may not be representative of the carcinogenic process found in human tumors. Low penetrance of tumor formation also translates into high cost and time commitment in performing studies with transgenic models. In this review, we will discuss some of the commonly used methods for modeling cancer in the head and neck region including squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck as well as thyroid carcinoma.

Keywords: Animal model; Head and neck cancer; Orthotopic xenograft; Thyroid carcinoma; Trangenic.