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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Mar 19;95(6):458-70.

Effects of blocking platelet-derived growth factor-receptor signaling in a mouse model of experimental prostate cancer bone metastases.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Biology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.



Expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and activation (by autophosphorylation) of its receptor (PDGF-R), a tyrosine kinase, are associated with the growth of metastatic prostate tumor cells in the bone parenchyma. The tyrosine kinase inhibitor STI571 blocks the PDGF signaling pathway by inhibiting PDGF-R autophosphorylation. We examined the effects of STI571, given alone or with paclitaxel (Taxol), on tumor growth in a mouse model of prostate cancer metastasis.


Human prostate cancer PC-3MM2 cells were injected into the tibias of male nude mice. Three days later the mice (20 per group) were randomly assigned to 5 weeks of treatment with oral and injected water (control), daily oral STI571, weekly injected paclitaxel, or STI571 plus paclitaxel. Lesions in bone and the surrounding muscles were then harvested and analyzed by histology, western blotting (for PDGF-R phosphorylation), immunohistochemistry (for expression of proangiogenic molecules), and double immunofluorescence (to identify endothelial cells and apoptotic tumor cells). Growth of bone lesions was monitored by digital radiography. Bone lesions from control mice were used to establish short-term cell cultures for analysis of PDGF-R phosphorylation. All statistical tests were two-sided.


PC-3MM2 cells cultured from bone lesions and treated in vitro with STI571 had less phosphorylated PDGF-R than untreated cells. In control mice, bone lesions expressed high levels of PDGF and activated (i.e., phosphorylated) PDGF-R, whereas lesions in the adjacent musculature did not. Activated PDGF-R was present on the surface of endothelial cells within the bone lesions but not in endothelial cells of uninjected bone. Mice treated with STI571 or STI571 plus paclitaxel had a lower tumor incidence, smaller tumors, and less bone lysis and lymph node metastasis than mice treated with water or paclitaxel alone (P<.001 for all). Mice treated with STI571 or STI571 plus paclitaxel had less phosphorylated PDGF-R on tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells, less tumor cell proliferation, statistically significantly more apoptotic tumor cells (all P<.001), and fewer tumor-associated endothelial cells (P<.001) than control mice.


Endothelial cells appear to express phosphorylated PDGF-R when they are exposed to tumor cells that express PDGF. Using STI571 to inhibit PDGF-R phosphorylation may, especially in combination with paclitaxel, produce substantial therapeutic effects against prostate cancer bone metastasis.

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