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Cancer. 1997 Oct 15;80(8 Suppl):1581-7.

Mechanisms of the development of osteoblastic metastases.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Although several neoplasms may produce osteoblastic metastases, carcinoma of the prostate is by far the most common. Biochemical and histologic studies indicate that osteolysis also is a manifestation of prostate carcinoma. Furthermore, factors such as parathyroid hormone-related peptide, which mediate osteolysis in other cancers, also appear to be operative in the bone breakdown induced by prostate carcinoma. However, the most unique skeletal effect of this tumor is its consistent capacity to stimulate osteoblasts to deposit new bone. Several bone growth factors have been detected in prostatic tissue and may contribute to this process. These include transforming growth factor-beta, fibroblast growth factor, and bone morphogenetic proteins. The author isolated an amino-terminal fragment (ATF) of the protease urokinase (uPA) from the conditioned medium of the prostate carcinoma cell line PC-3 and demonstrated that this fragment has mitogenic activity for osteoblastic cells. The activity appears to reside in an epidermal growth factor-like growth factor domain (GFD) within the ATF. Subsequently, the author cloned the rat uPA receptor (uPAR). uPAR is known to bind the ATF and can permit the uPA molecule to exhibit focal proteolysis. It was shown that the ATF also can induce c-myc, c-jun, and c-fos in osteoblastic cells. This effect of ATF can be mimicked by the GFD and suggests that this signalling pathway in osteoblasts is via the uPAR. Consequently, the uPA molecule may contribute to growth factor effects in osteoblasts via the NH2-terminal fragment and to tumor invasiveness via its COOH-terminal proteolytic domain. This scenario is supported by results from studies with uPA-overexpressing prostate carcinoma cells in rats. Additional studies will be required to further define the mechanisms of interaction of prostate carcinoma and other cancers with bone but each site of molecular interaction may provide a therapeutic window for curtailing the effects of these tumors on the skeleton.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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