Prostate cancer bone metastases promote both osteolytic and osteoblastic activity


  • Evan T. Keller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
    • Rm. 5304 CCGCB, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0940.
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  • Julie Brown

    1. Oncology Research Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick and Department of Clinical Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Advanced prostate cancer is frequently accompanied by the development of metastasis to bone. In the past, prostate cancer bone metastases were characterized as being osteoblastic (i.e., increasing bone density) based on radiographs. However, emerging evidence suggests that development of prostate cancer bone metastases requires osteoclastic activity in addition to osteoblastic activity. The complexities of how prostate tumor cells influence bone remodeling are just beginning to be elucidated. Prostate cancer cells produce a variety of pro-osteoblastic factors that promote bone mineralization. For example, both bone morphogenetic proteins and endothelin-1 have well recognized pro-osteoblastic activities and are produced by prostate cancer cells. In addition to factors that enhance bone mineralization prostate cancer cells produced factors that promote osteoclast activity. Perhaps the most critical pro-osteoclastogenic factor produced by prostate cancer cells is receptor activator of NFκB ligand (RANKL), which has been shown to be required for the development of osteoclasts. Blocking RANKL results in inhibiting prostate cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis and inhibits development and progression of prostate tumor growth in bone. These findings suggest that targeting osteoclast activity may be of therapeutic benefit. However, it remains to be defined how prostate cancer cells synchronize the combination of osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity. We propose that as the bone microenvironment is changed by the developing cancer, this in turn influences the prostate cancer cells' balance between pro-osteoclastic and pro-osteoblastic activity. Accordingly, the determination of how the prostate cancer cells and bone microenvironment crosstalk are important to elucidate how prostate cancer cells modulate bone remodeling. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.