Identification of breast cancer cell line-derived paracrine factors that stimulate osteoclast activity

Larry Pederson, Bent Winding, Niels T. Foged, Thomas C. Spelsberg, Merry Jo Oursler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Metastatic breast cancer causes destruction of significant amounts of bone, and, although bone is the most likely site of breast cancer metastasis, little is understood about interactions between tumor cells and bone- resorbing osteoclasts. We have investigated the paracrine factors produced by breast cancer cells that are involved in increasing osteoclast activity. We have determined by immunoassay that the human breast cancer cell line MDA MB 231 (231) cultured in serum-free medium secretes transforming growth factors type β (TGF-β) 1 and 2, macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), interleukin (IL) - 1 and -6, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), insulin-like growth factor II (IGF II), and parathyroid hormone-related peptide. To determine which of these are involved in increased bone destruction, we have fractionated serum- free 231-conditioned media and measured these fractions for effects on osteoclast resorption activity using multiple activity assays. The pattern of responses was complex. Several fractions stimulated osteoclast resorption either by increasing the number of osteoclasts binding to the bone or by elevating the resorption activity of the individual osteoclasts. Other fractions inhibited osteoclast activity. Analysis of active fractions for the factors identified in the 231-conditioned medium revealed that the presence of TNF-α and IGF-II was restricted to separate fractions that stimulated osteoclast resorption activity. The fractions that inhibited osteoclast resorption activity contained M-CSF, IL-6, TGF-β2, and GMCSF. No TGF-β1 or IL-1 was detected in any of the active fractions. Our data support the hypothesis that breast cancer cells modulate osteoclast activity using multiple regulatory factors that increase both the number of mature osteoclasts attached to the bone and the bone resorption activity of these individual osteoclasts. Once it is understood how metastatic breast cancer elevates osteoclast-mediated bone loss, effective therapies to slow the progression and/or prevent this bone loss will become possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5849-5855
Number of pages7
JournalCancer research
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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