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Papers of the Week

2019 Feb 27

Breast Cancer Res



Osteoblasts are “educated” by crosstalk with metastatic breast cancer cells in the bone tumor microenvironment.


Kolb AD, Shupp AB, Mukhopadhyay D, Marini FC, Bussard KM
Breast Cancer Res. 2019 Feb 27; 21(1):31.
PMID: 30813947.


In a cancer-free environment in the adult, the skeleton continuously undergoes remodeling. Bone-resorbing osteoclasts excavate erosion cavities, and bone-depositing osteoblasts synthesize osteoid matrix that forms new bone, with no net bone gain or loss. When metastatic breast cancer cells invade the bone, this balance is disrupted. Patients with bone metastatic breast cancer frequently suffer from osteolytic bone lesions that elicit severe bone pain and fractures. Bisphosphonate treatments are not curative. Under ideal circumstances, osteoblasts would synthesize new matrix to fill in erosion cavities caused by osteoclasts, but this is not what occurs. Our prior evidence demonstrated that osteoblasts are diverted from laying down bone matrix to producing cytokines that facilitate breast cancer cell maintenance in late-stage disease. Here, we have new evidence to suggest that there are subpopulations of osteoblasts in the tumor niche as evidenced by their protein marker expression that have distinct roles in tumor progression in the bone.