July 24, 2012

Proteins guard against cancer spread

Targeting immune system proteins may keep prostate cancer from spreading to bone.

by Jessica Mazerik

Prostate cancer cells metastasize mainly to bone, yet bone metastases are resistant to common therapies and are often fatal.

A key receptor for the growth factor TGF-β (TβRII) is lost in the connective tissue (stroma) of most prostate cancers, but the effects of this loss on metastasis and bone lesion development are undefined.

(Wellcome Images)

Recently in Molecular Cancer Research, Xiaohong Li, research assistant professor of cancer biology, and colleagues reported that the receptor is also lost in the stromal cells of human prostate cancer that has metastasized to bone, suggesting the primary tumor influences the microenvironment of the secondary site. They showed in mice that loss of TGFβ signaling promotes adhesion of prostate cancer cells to bone by increasing expression of cytokines CXCL16 and CXCL1 – and that suppressing these cytokines reduced tumor establishment in bone.

This study, featured on the journal cover, suggests that loss of TGF-β responsiveness alters the tumor microenvironment by regulating the expression of CXCL16 and CXCL1, which may be potential targets for therapies to prevent prostate cancer metastasis.

This research was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (CA126505 and CA143057).

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