Animal Models of Metastatic Lesions to the Spine: A Focus on Epidural Spinal Cord Compression

Meghan J. Price, César Baëta, Tara E. Dalton, Annee Nguyen, Catherine Lavau, Zach Pennington, Daniel M. Sciubba, C. Rory Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Epidural spinal cord compression (ESCC) secondary to spine metastases is one of the most devastating sequelae of primary cancer as it may lead to muscle weakness, paresthesia, pain, and paralysis. Spine metastases occur through a multistep process that can result in eventual ESCC; however, the lack of a preclinical model to effectively recapitulate each step of this metastatic cascade and the symptom burden of ESCC has limited our understanding of this disease process. In this review, we discuss animal models that best recapitulate ESCC. We start with a broad discussion of commonly used models of bone metastasis and end with a focused discussion of models used to specifically study ESCC. Orthotopic models offer the most authentic recapitulation of metastasis development; however, they rarely result in symptomatic ESCC and are challenging to replicate. Conversely, models that involve injection of tumor cells directly into the bloodstream or bone better mimic the symptoms of ESCC; however, they provide limited insight into the epithelial to mesenchymal transition and natural hematogenous spread of tumor cells. Therefore, until an ideal model is created, it is critical to select an animal model that is specifically designed to answer the scientific question of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-134
Number of pages13
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal model
  • Bone metastases
  • Epidural compression
  • Neurologic deficits
  • Spine metastasis
  • Vertebral body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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