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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 May 2021 - 14 May 2021


Pain Rep



Reciprocal interactions between osteoclasts and nociceptive sensory neurons in bone cancer pain.



Many common cancers such as breast, prostate, and lung cancer metastasize to bones at advanced stages, producing severe pain and functional impairment. At present, the current pharmacotherapies available for bone cancer pain are insufficient to provide safe and efficacious pain relief. In this narrative review, we discuss the mechanisms used by cancer cells within the bone tumor microenvironment (TME) to drive bone cancer pain. In particular, we highlight the reciprocal interactions between tumor cells, bone-resorbing osteoclasts, and pain-sensing sensory neurons (nociceptors), which drive bone cancer pain. We discuss how tumor cells present within the bone TME accelerate osteoclast differentiation (osteoclastogenesis) and alter osteoclast activity and function. Furthermore, we highlight how this perturbed state of osteoclast overactivation contributes to bone cancer pain through (1) direct mechanisms, through their production of pronociceptive factors that act directly on sensory afferents; and (2) by indirect mechanisms, wherein osteoclasts drive bone resorption that weakens tumor-bearing bones and predisposes them to skeletal-related events, thereby driving bone cancer pain and functional impairment. Finally, we discuss some potential therapeutic agents, such as denosumab, bisphosphonates, and nivolumab, and discuss their respective effects on bone cancer pain, osteoclast overactivation, and tumor growth within the bone TME.