Genetically Engineered Mouse Models of Liver Tumorigenesis Reveal a Wide Histological Spectrum of Neoplastic and Non-Neoplastic Liver Lesions

Steiger, K., Gross, N., Widholz, S. A., Rad, R., Weichert, W., Mogler, C. (2020). Cancers (Basel) 12.

DOI:10.3390/cancers12082265(link is external)


Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMM) are an elegant tool to study liver carcinogenesis in vivo. Newly designed mouse models need detailed (histopathological) phenotyping when described for the first time to avoid misinterpretation and misconclusions. Many chemically induced models for hepatocarcinogenesis comprise a huge variety of histologically benign and malignant neoplastic, as well as non-neoplastic, lesions. Such comprehensive categorization data for GEMM are still missing. In this study, 874 microscopically categorized liver lesions from 369 macroscopically detected liver “tumors” from five different GEMM for liver tumorigenesis were included. The histologic spectrum of diagnosis included a wide range of both benign and malignant neoplastic (approx. 82%) and non-neoplastic (approx. 18%) lesions including hyperplasia, reactive bile duct changes or oval cell proliferations with huge variations among the various models and genetic backgrounds. Our study therefore critically demonstrates that models of liver tumorigenesis can harbor a huge variety of histopathologically distinct diagnosis and, depending on the genotype, notable variations are expectable. These findings are extremely important to warrant the correct application of GEMM in liver cancer research and clearly emphasize the role of basic histopathology as still being a crucial tool in modern biomedical research.