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Eur J Cancer. 2001 Jan;37(1):106-13.

A matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor, batimastat, retards the development of osteolytic bone metastases by MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells in Balb C nu/nu mice.

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Department of Pathology, University of Manitoba, 770 Bannatyne Avenue, Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Bone resorption is a dominant feature of many bone metastases and releases factors from the bone matrix that can promote the expression of the metastatic phenotype in cancer cells. Since proteolytic enzymes, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contribute to bone destruction by metastatic tumour cells and host cells, we have examined the effect of a MMP inhibitor, batimastat, on the ability of MDA-MB-231 cells to degrade bone in vitro and to form bone metastases in BalbC nu/nu mice. In vitro, the neoplastic cells produced MMP-2 and MMP-9, degraded [3H]-proline-labelled osteoblast matrices, and formed resorption pits in cortical bone. These phenomena were inhibited by < or = 20 microM batimastat. To induce vertebral and long bone metastases in vivo, 1x10(5) MDA-MB-231 cells were injected into the arterial circulation of BalbC nu/nu mice. Test groups were also given 30 mg/kg batimastat intraperitoneally (i.p.). After 21 days, the long bone metastases were characterised by a 67% reduction of metaphyseal medullary bone and complete replacement of marrow by tumour. In tumour-bearing mice that had been treated with 30 mg/kg batimastat i.p., the tumour volume decreased 8-fold, osteolysis was inhibited by 35%, and replacement of the bone marrow by tumour was inhibited by 65%. Similar effects were observed in the vertebral metastases. These data provide evidence that MDA-MB-231 cells can degrade osteoblast matrices and mineralised bone in vitro and support the hypothesis that MMPs are involved in the pathogenesis of osteolytic bone metastases in vivo. They demonstrate that an agent which inhibits proteolysis can retard the development of osteolytic bone metastases in this model.

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