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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Dec 2019 - 3 Jan 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 12 27

Sci Rep



Dichotomic effects of clinically used drugs on tumor growth, bone remodeling and pain management.


Barrière D A, Midavaine É, Doré-Savard L, Kirby K, Tremblay L, Beaudoin J-F, Beaudet N, Longpré J-M, Lecomte R, Lepage M, Sarret P
Sci Rep. 2019 12 27; 9(1):20155.
PMID: 31882872.


Improvements in the survival of breast cancer patients have led to the emergence of bone health and pain management as key aspects of patient's quality of life. Here, we used a female rat MRMT-1 model of breast cancer-induced bone pain to compare the effects of three drugs used clinically morphine, nabilone and zoledronate on tumor progression, bone remodeling and pain relief. We found that chronic morphine reduced the mechanical hypersensitivity induced by the proliferation of the luminal B aggressive breast cancer cells in the tumor-bearing femur and prevented spinal neuronal and astrocyte activation. Using MTT cell viability assay and MRI coupled to FDG PET imaging followed by ex vivo 3D µCT, we further demonstrated that morphine did not directly exert tumor growth promoting or inhibiting effects on MRMT-1 cancer cells but induced detrimental effects on bone healing by disturbing the balance between bone formation and breakdown. In sharp contrast, both the FDA-approved bisphosphonate zoledronate and the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone prescribed as antiemetics to patients receiving chemotherapy were effective in limiting the osteolytic bone destruction, thus preserving the bone architecture. The protective effect of nabilone on bone metabolism was further accompanied by a direct inhibition of tumor growth. As opposed to zoledronate, nabilone was however not able to manage bone tumor-induced pain and reactive gliosis. Altogether, our results revealed that morphine, nabilone and zoledronate exert disparate effects on tumor growth, bone metabolism and pain control. These findings also support the use of nabilone as an adjuvant therapy for bone metastases.