Bone metastasis is a frequent and life-threatening complication of breast cancer. The molecular mechanisms supporting the establishment of breast cancer cells in the skeleton are still not fully understood, which may be attributed to the lack of suitable models that interrogate interactions between human breast cancer cells and the bone microenvironment. Although it is well-known that integrins mediate adhesion of malignant cells to bone extracellular matrix, their role during bone colonization remains unclear. Here, the role of ß1 integrins in bone colonization was investigated using tissue-engineered humanized in vitro and in vivo bone models. In vitro, bonemetastatic breast cancer cells with suppressed integrin ß1 expression showed reduced attachment, spreading, and migration within human bone matrix compared to control cells. Cell proliferation in vitro was not affected by ß1 integrin knockdown, yet tumor growth in vivo within humanized bone microenvironments was significantly inhibited upon ß1 integrin suppression, as revealed by quantitative in/ex vivo fluorescence imaging and histological analysis. Tumor cells invaded bone marrow spaces in the humanized bone and formed osteolytic lesions; osteoclastic bone resorption was, however, not reduced by ß1 integrin knockdown. Taken together, we demonstrate that ß1 integrins have a pivotal role in bone colonization using unique tissue-engineered humanized bone models.
Thibaudeau, L., Taubenberger, A. V., Theodoropoulos, C., Holzapfel, B. M., Ramuz, O., Straub, M., & Hutmacher, D. W. (2015). New mechanistic insights of integrin β1 in breast cancer bone colonization. Oncotarget, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2788