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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2006 Dec;25(4):621-33.

Molecular interactions between breast cancer cells and the bone microenvironment drive skeletal metastases.

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University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Breast cancer cells preferentially spread to bone. Bone metastases are currently incurable and therefore better treatments need to be developed. Metastasis is an inefficient, multi-step process. Specific aspects of both breast cancer cells and the bone microenvironment contribute to the development of bone metastases. Breast cancers express chemokine receptors, integrins, cadherins, and bone-resorbing and bone-forming factors that contribute to the successful and preferential spread of tumor to bone. Bone is rich in growth factors and cell types that make it a hospitable environment for breast cancer growth. Once breast cancer cells enter the bone, a highly complex vicious cycle develops, in which breast cancer cells secrete factors that act on bone cells and other cells within the bone (stem cells, T cells, platelets, adipocytes, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells), causing them to secrete factors that act on adjacent cancer cells. The steps in the metastatic cascade and the vicious cycle within bone offer unique targets for adjuvant treatments to treat and cure bone metastases.

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