Modeling human breast cancer metastasis in mice: Maspin as a paradigm

H. Y. Shi, W. Zhang, R. Liang, F. Kittrell, N. S. Templeton, D. Medina, Ming Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Breast cancer is the most common cancer detected in women, accounting for nearly one out of every three cancers diagnosed in the United States. Most cancer patients do not die from the primary tumor but die due to metastasis. Therefore, the study of metastasis is of most importance both to the clinician and patient. In the past, animal models have been used in breast cancer research and mammary gland biology. Our group has also established several animal models to address the function of a novel tumor suppressor gene maspin in breast tumor progression. Maspin was initially isolated from normal mammary epithelial cells. Its expression was down regulated in breast tumors. To test the protective role of maspin overexpression in mammary tumor progression, we crossed maspin overexpression transgenic mice (WAP-maspin) with a strain of oncogenic WAP-SV40 T antigen mice. The bitransgenic mice had reduced tumor growth rate and metastasis. Maspin overexpression increased the rate of apoptosis of both preneoplastic and carcinomatous mammary epithelial cells. Maspin reduced tumor growth through a combination of reduced angiogenesis and increased apoptosis. In a separate animal experiment, maspin overexpressing mammary tumor cells (TM40D) were implanted into the fat pad of syngeneic mice. TM40D tumor cells were very invasive and metastatic. However, both primary tumor growth and metastasis were significantly blocked in TM40D cells that overexpress maspin as a consequence of plasmid or retrovirus infection. These evidences demonstrate that maspin function to inhibit primary tumor growth as well as invasion and metastasis. Elucidating the molecular mechanism of maspin action will shed light on our understanding of breast cancer invasion and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
JournalHistology and histopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Breast cancer model
  • Invasion and metastasis
  • Mammary tumor progression
  • Maspin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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