• hyaluronan;
  • 4-methylumbelliferone;
  • bone metastasis;
  • breast cancer;
  • bone destruction


Hyaluronan (HA) has been shown to play crucial roles in the tumorigenicity of malignant tumors. Previous studies demonstrated that inhibition of HA suppressed the tumorigenicity of various malignant tumors including breast cancer. 4-methylumbelliferone (MU) has been reported to inhibit HA synthesis in several cell types. However, few studies have focused on the effects of HA inhibition in breast cancer cells by MU, nor the effects on bone metastasis. We hypothesized that MU would suppress the progression of bone metastasis via inhibition of HA synthesis. Here, we investigated the effects of MU on HA expression in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line in addition to their tumorigenicity in vitro and in vivo. HAS2 mRNA expression was downregulated after 6 and 24 hr treatment with MU. Quantitative analysis of HA revealed that MU significantly inhibited the intracellular and cell surface HA. MU significantly inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis as determined by cell proliferation and TUNEL assays, respectively. Phosphorylation of Akt was suppressed after 12 and 24 hr treatment with MU. MU treatment also inhibited cell motility as well as cell invasiveness. MU also inhibited cell growth and motility in murine fibroblast cell line NIH3T3. In vivo, administration of MU inhibited the expansion of osteolytic lesions on soft X-rays in mouse breast cancer xenograft models. HA accumulation in bone metastatic lesions was perturbed peripherally. These data suggest that MU might be a therapeutic candidate for bone metastasis of breast cancer via suppression of HA synthesis and accumulation.