Purpose of review
Biliary tract cancers which include intrahepatic and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas and gallbladder cancer, are characterized by poor outcome. Therefore, identifying the molecular mechanisms of the disease has become a priority. However, such identification has to cope with extreme heterogeneity of the disease, which results from the variable anatomical location, the numerous cell types of origin and the high number of known genetic alterations.
Animal models can develop invasive and metastatic tumours that recapitulate as faithfully as possible the molecular features of the human tumours. To generate animal models of cholangiocarcinoma
, investigators resorted to the administration of carcinogens, induction of cholestasis, grafting of tumour cells and induction of genetic modifications.
Here, we summarize the currently available genetically engineered animal models, and focus on mice and zebrafish. The experimental strategies that were selected to induce cholangiocarcinoma
in a time-controlled and cell-type-specific manner are critically examined. We discuss their strengths and limitations while considering their relevance to human pathophysiology.