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Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 1;71(1):164-74. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1708. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

PDGFR signaling blockade in marrow stroma impairs lung cancer bone metastasis.

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Novel Therapeutics Targets, Division of Oncology, Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CIMA), University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


Bone microenvironment and cell-cell interactions are crucial for the initiation and development of metastasis. By means of a pharmacologic approach, using the multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib, we tested the relevance of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) axis in the bone marrow (BM) stromal compartment for the initiation and development of lung cancer metastasis to bone. PDGFRβ was found to be the main tyrosine kinase target of sunitinib expressed in BM stromal ST-2 and MC3T3-E1 preosteoblastic cells. In contrast, no expression of sunitinib-targeted receptors was found in A549M1 and low levels in H460M5 lung cancer metastatic cells. Incubation of ST-2 and human BM endothelial cells with sunitinib led to potent cell growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. Similarly, sunitinib induced a robust proapoptotic effect in vivo on BM stromal PDGFRβ(+) cells and produced extensive disruption of tissue architecture and vessel leakage in the BM cavity. Pretreatment of ST-2 cells with sunitinib also hindered heterotypic adhesion to lung cancer cell lines. These effects were correlated with changes in cell-cell and cell-matrix molecules in both stromal and tumor cells. Pretreatment of mice with sunitinib before intracardiac inoculation of A549M1 or H460M5 cells caused marked inhibition of tumor cells homing to bone, whereas no effect was found when tumor cells were pretreated before inoculation. Treatment with sunitinib dramatically increased overall survival and prevented tumor colonization but not bone lesions, whereas combination with zoledronic acid resulted in marked reduction of osteolytic lesions and osseous tumor burden. Thus, disruption of the PDGFR axis in the BM stroma alters heterotypic tumor-stromal and tumor-matrix interactions, thereby preventing efficient engagement required for bone homing and osseous colonization. These results support the notion that concomitant targeting of the tumor and stromal compartment is a more effective approach for blocking bone metastasis.

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