Genetic Mouse Models as In Vivo Tools for Cholangiocarcinoma Research
Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a genetically and histologically complex disease with a highly dismal prognosis. A deeper understanding of the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of human CCA will increase our current knowledge of the disease and expedite the eventual development of novel therapeutic strategies for this fatal cancer. This endeavor is effectively supported by genetic mouse models, which serve as sophisticated tools to systematically investigate CCA pathobiology and treatment response. These in vivo models feature many of the genetic alterations found in humans, recapitulate multiple hallmarks of cholangiocarcinogenesis (encompassing cell transformation, preneoplastic lesions, established tumors and metastatic disease) and provide an ideal experimental setting to study the interplay between tumor cells and the surrounding stroma. This review is intended to serve as a compendium of CCA mouse models, including traditional transgenic models but also genetically flexible approaches based on either the direct introduction of DNA into liver cells or transplantation of pre-malignant cells, and is meant as a resource for CCA researchers to aid in the selection of the most appropriate in vivo model system.