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Keywords:

  • lymphatic pathway;
  • lymphangiogenesis;
  • cornea;
  • lymph node;
  • metastasis;
  • PET, luciferase

Abstract

As a model system for the understanding of human cancer, the mouse has proved immensely valuable. Indeed, studies of mouse models have helped to define the nature of cancer as a genetic disease and demonstrated the causal role of genetic events found in tumors. As an experimental platform, they have provided critical insight into the process of tumor metastasis in the lymphovascular system. Once viewed with skepticism, mouse models are now an integral arm of basic and clinical cancer research. The use of a genetically tractable organism that shares organ systems and an immense degree of genetic similarity to humans provides a means to examine multiple features of human disease. Mouse models enable development and testing of new approaches to disease prevention and treatment, identification of early diagnostic markers and novel therapeutic targets, and an understanding of the in vivo biology and genetics of tumor initiation, promotion, progression, and metastasis. This review summarizes recent mouse models for lymphangiogenesis and the process of lymphovascular metastasis, focusing on the use of the cornea as an experimental platform for lymphangiogenesis in inflammation and immunity, and on the use of molecular and viral vector mediated imaging and to identify and monitor lymph node metastases of prostate cancer. J. Surg. Oncol. 2011;103:475–483. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.