A comprehensive review of metal-induced cellular transformation studies

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In vitro transformation assays not only serve practical purposes in screening for potential carcinogenic substances in food, drug, and cosmetic industries, but more importantly, they provide a means of understanding the critical biological processes behind in vivo cancer development. In resemblance to cancer cells in vivo, successfully transformed cells display loss of contact inhibition, gain of anchorage independent growth, resistant to proper cell cycle regulation such as apoptosis, faster proliferation rate, potential for cellular invasion, and ability to form tumors in experimental animals. Cells purposely transformed using metal exposures enable researchers to examine molecular changes, dissect various stages of tumor formation, and ultimately elucidate metal induced cancer mode of action. For practical purposes, this review specifically focuses on studies incorporating As-, Cd-, Cr-, and Ni-induced cell transformation. Through investigating and comparing an extensive list of studies using various methods of metal-induced transformation, this review serves to bridge an information gap and provide a guide for avoiding procedural discrepancies as well as maximizing experimental efficiency.

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