Animal models of prostate cancer have been limited in number and in relevance to the human disease. With the advancement of transgenic and knockout technologies, combined with tissue specific promoters and tissue-specific gene ablation, a new generation of mouse models has emerged. This review will discuss various animal models and their inherent strengths and weaknesses. A primary emphasis is placed on mouse models that have been designed on the basis of genetic alterations that are frequently found in human prostate cancer. These models display slow, temporal development of increasingly severe histopathologic lesions, which are remarkably restricted to the prostate gland, a property similar to the ageing related progression of this disease in humans. The preneoplastic lesions, akin to what is considered as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, are consistent major phenotypes in the models, and, therefore, are discussed for histopathologic criteria that may distinguish their progressions or grades. Finally, considering that prostate cancer is a complex multifocal disease, which is likely to require multiple genetic / epigenetic alterations, many of these models have already been intercrossed to derive mice with compound genetic alterations. It is predicted that these and subsequent compound mutant mice should represent “natural” animal models for investigating the mechanism of development of human prostate diseases, as well as, for preclinical models for testing therapeutics.
Keywords: prostate cancer, animal model, tissue-specific promoters, prostate epithelium-specific gene inactivation, growth factors, retinoid receptors, tumor suppressors
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