Bone Metastasis of Breast Cancer
Osteotropic tumor metastasis is a property of malignant breast and prostate adenocarcinoma, as well as other cancer cell types. Some 70-90% of advanced breast cancer patients may experience bone pain, nerve compression, and orthopaedic complications stemming from osteolytic metasases.
During the past several years, a new focus in our laboratory on the cell biology of tumor metastasis to bone has led to studies of:
- gene expression analysis of breast cancer cells in contact with osteoblasts,
- analysis of RANKL/RANK signaling in breast cancer metastasis, and
There are several clear mechanisms involving PTHrp, IL-6, and VEGF that can explain the activation of osteoclasts in the vicinity of skeletal metastases. In general, these appear to involve RANKL expression in the stromal/osteoblast population resulting in osteoclastogenesis, enhanced osteoclast survival, and osteolytic bone destruction. We seek to understand the mechanisms by which the bone microenvironment enhances the malignant properties of metastatic breast cancer.