Prostate cancer (PCa) epithelial cells require a number of factors to facilitate their establishment and growth at a distant site of metastasis. Their ability to adapt to their microenvironment, proliferate and recruit an underlying stroma is integral to the survival and growth of the metastasis. PCa predominantly metastasizes to the bone, and bone metastases are the main cause of morbidity. The bone marrow provides a permissive environment for the formation of a metastasis. In some cases, the cells may remain dormant for some time, eventually proliferating in response to an unknown “trigger.” The marrow is rich in progenitor cells that differentiate into numerous cell types, producing new blood vessels, supporting fibroblasts, and an underlying extracellular matrix (ECM) that form the reactive stroma. By secreting a number of cytokines, growth factors and proteases they recruit auxiliary cells required to produce a functional stroma. These components are involved in a reciprocal interaction between the stroma and the PCa cells, allowing for the growth and survival of the tumor. Left unchecked, once a PCa tumor has established itself in the bone marrow it will eventually replace the marrow, interrupting bone homeostasis and typically promoting an osteoblastic response in the bone including osteoclastic events. The abundant deposition of new woven bone results in nerve compression, bone pain and an increase in fractures in patients with PCa bone metastases. This review will examine the tumor microenvironment, its role in facilitating tumor dissemination, growth and the resultant pathologies associated with PCa bone metastasis. J. Cell. Biochem. 101: 873–886, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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