Bone likely provides a hospitable environment for cancer cells as suggested by their preferential localization to the skeleton. Previous work has shown that osteoblast-derived cytokines increased in the presence of metastatic breast cancer cells. Thus, we hypothesized that osteoblast-derived cytokines, in particular IL-6, MCP-1, and VEGF, would be localized to the bone metaphyses, an area to which breast cancer cells preferentially traffic. Human metastatic MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells were inoculated into the left ventricle of the heart of athymic mice. Three to four weeks later, tumor localization within isolated femurs was examined using μCT and MRI. In addition, IL-6, MCP-1, and VEGF localization were assayed via immunohistochemistry. We found that MDA-MB-231 cells colonized trabecular bone, the area in which murine MCP-1 and VEGF were visualized in the bone matrix. In contrast, IL-6 was expressed by murine cells throughout the bone marrow. MDA-MB-231 cells produced VEGF, whose expression was not only associated with the breast cancer cells, but also increased with tumor growth. This is the first study to localize MCP-1, VEGF, and IL-6 in bone compartments via immunohistochemistry. These data suggest that metastatic cancer cells may co-opt bone cells into creating a niche facilitating cancer cell colonization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research