BoneKEy Reports | Laboratory Methods

Murine models of breast cancer bone metastasis

Laura E Wright
Penelope D Ottewell
Nadia Rucci
Olivier Peyruchaud
Gabriel M Pagnotti
Antonella Chiechi
Jeroen T Buijs
Julie A Sterling



Bone metastases cause significant morbidity and mortality in late-stage breast cancer patients and are currently considered incurable. Investigators rely on translational models to better understand the pathogenesis of skeletal complications of malignancy in order to identify therapeutic targets that may ultimately prevent and treat solid tumor metastasis to bone. Many experimental models of breast cancer bone metastases are in use today, each with its own caveats. In this methods review, we characterize the bone phenotype of commonly utilized human- and murine-derived breast cell lines that elicit osteoblastic and/or osteolytic destruction of bone in mice and report methods for optimizing tumor-take in murine models of bone metastasis. We then provide protocols for four of the most common xenograft and syngeneic inoculation routes for modeling breast cancer metastasis to the skeleton in mice, including the intra-cardiac, intra-arterial, orthotopic and intra-tibial methods of tumor cell injection. Recommendations for in vivo and ex vivo assessment of tumor progression and bone destruction are provided, followed by discussion of the strengths and limitations of the available tools and translational models that aid investigators in the study of breast cancer metastasis to bone.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.