Epithelial ovarian cancer experimental models

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Abstract

Epithelial ovarian cancer (OvCa) is associated with high mortality and, as the majority (>75%) of women with OvCa have metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis, rates of survival have not changed appreciably over 30 years. A mechanistic understanding of OvCa initiation and progression is hindered by the complexity of genetic and/or environmental initiating events and lack of clarity regarding the cell(s) or tissue(s) of origin. Metastasis of OvCa involves direct extension or exfoliation of cells and cellular aggregates into the peritoneal cavity, survival of matrix-detached cells in a complex ascites fluid phase and subsequent adhesion to the mesothelium lining covering abdominal organs to establish secondary lesions containing host stromal and inflammatory components. Development of experimental models to recapitulate this unique mechanism of metastasis presents a remarkable scientific challenge, and many approaches used to study other solid tumors (for example, lung, colon and breast) are not transferable to OvCa research given the distinct metastasis pattern and unique tumor microenvironment (TME). This review will discuss recent progress in the development and refinement of experimental models to study OvCa. Novel cellular, three-dimensional organotypic, and ex vivo models are considered and the current in vivo models summarized. The review critically evaluates currently available genetic mouse models of OvCa, the emergence of xenopatients and the utility of the hen model to study OvCa prevention, tumorigenesis, metastasis and chemoresistance. As these new approaches more accurately recapitulate the complex TME, it is predicted that new opportunities for enhanced understanding of disease progression, metastasis and therapeutic response will emerge.

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