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Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1034-42. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23625.

Breast cancer-derived Dickkopf1 inhibits osteoblast differentiation and osteoprotegerin expression: implication for breast cancer osteolytic bone metastases.

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Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO, USA.


Most breast cancer metastases in bone form osteolytic lesions, but the mechanisms of tumor-induced bone resorption and destruction are not fully understood. Although it is well recognized that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is important for breast cancer tumorigenesis, the role of this pathway in breast cancer bone metastasis is unclear. Dickkopf1 (Dkk1) is a secreted Wnt/beta-catenin antagonist. In the present study, we demonstrated that activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling enhanced Dkk1 expression in breast cancer cells and that Dkk1 overexpression is a frequent event in breast cancer. We also found that human breast cancer cell lines that preferentially form osteolytic bone metastases exhibited increased levels of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and Dkk1 expression. Moreover, we showed that breast cancer cell-produced Dkk1 blocked Wnt3A-induced osteoblastic differentiation and osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression of osteoblast precursor C2C12 cells and that these effects could be neutralized by a specific anti-Dkk1 antibody. In addition, we found that breast cancer cell conditioned media were able to block Wnt3A-induced NF-kappaB ligand reduction in C2C12 cells. Finally, we demonstrated that conditioned media from breast cancer cells in which Dkk1 expression had been silenced via RNAi were unable to block Wnt3A-induced C2C12 osteoblastic differentiation and OPG expression. Taken together, these results suggest that breast cancer-produced Dkk1 may be an important mechanistic link between primary breast tumors and secondary osteolytic bone metastases.

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