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Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;65(20):9426-35.

A blocking antibody to nerve growth factor attenuates skeletal pain induced by prostate tumor cells growing in bone.

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Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota, MN 55455, USA.


Prostate cancer is unique in that bone is often the only clinically detectable site of metastasis. Prostate tumors that have metastasized to bone frequently induce bone pain which can be difficult to fully control as it seems to be driven simultaneously by inflammatory, neuropathic, and tumorigenic mechanisms. As nerve growth factor (NGF) has been shown to modulate inflammatory and some neuropathic pain states in animal models, an NGF-sequestering antibody was administered in a prostate model of bone cancer where significant bone formation and bone destruction occur simultaneously in the mouse femur. Administration of a blocking antibody to NGF produced a significant reduction in both early and late stage bone cancer pain-related behaviors that was greater than or equivalent to that achieved with acute administration of 10 or 30 mg/kg of morphine sulfate. In contrast, this therapy did not influence tumor-induced bone remodeling, osteoblast proliferation, osteoclastogenesis, tumor growth, or markers of sensory or sympathetic innervation in the skin or bone. One rather unique aspect of the sensory innervation of bone, that may partially explain the analgesic efficacy of anti-NGF therapy in relieving prostate cancer-induced bone pain, is that nearly all nerve fibers that innervate the bone express trkA and p75, and these are the receptors through which NGF sensitizes and/or activates nociceptors. The present results suggest that anti-NGF therapy may be effective in reducing pain and enhancing the quality of life in patients with prostate tumor-induced bone cancer pain.

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