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S. L. Rankin, G. Zhu and S. J. Baker (2012) Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology38, 254–270

Insights gained from modelling high-grade glioma in the mouse

High-grade gliomas (HGGs) are devastating primary brain tumours with poor outcomes. Advances towards effective treatments require improved understanding of pathogenesis and relevant model systems for preclinical testing. Mouse models for HGG provide physiologically relevant experimental systems for analysis of HGG pathogenesis. There are advantages and disadvantages to the different methodologies used to generate such models, including implantation, genetic engineering or somatic gene transfer approaches. This review highlights how mouse models have provided insights into the contribution of specific mutations to tumour initiation, progression and phenotype, the influence of tumour micro-environment, and the analysis of cell types that can give rise to glioma. HGGs are a heterogeneous group of tumours, and the complexity of diverse mutations within common signalling pathways as well as the developmental and cell-type context of transformation contributes to the overall diversity of glioma phenotype. Enhanced understanding of the mutations and cell types giving rise to HGG, along with the ability to design increasingly complex mouse models that more closely simulate the process of human gliomagenesis will continue to provide improved experimental systems for dissecting mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and for preclinical testing.