Dormant prostate cancer cells in bone tissue can be reawakened to cause secondary tumours, according to new research published in Endocrine-Related Cancer. Targeting the wake-up call could prevent metastasis and improve prostate cancer survival rates.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer from one organ to another and is a highly complex process, involving cancer cells breaking away from a primary tumour, travelling to a distant organ and colonising it. Cancer cells that fail to form a tumour in the newly-encountered tissue can fall into a dormant state.
Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in California found that dormant prostate cancer cells within bone tissue can be reawakened to a cancerous state when exposed to RANKL, a molecule commonly produced in inflammatory cells. This reawakening can lead to metastatic prostate cancer in bone tissue.
Produced by prostate cancer cells, RANKL is a signalling molecule that has been previously linked with human prostate cancer survival. In this study, researchers engineered a clinically relevant prostate cancer cell line to overproduce RANKL. They found that these cells could significantly alter the gene expression of surrounding cells in vitro, causing them to transform into aggressive cancer cells.
Researchers then injected engineered RANKL cells directly into the blood circulation of mice, which caused dormant cells within the skeleton to re-awaken, ultimately creating tumours within the bone. When the RANKL receptor was blocked, these tumours did not form.
After examination, these tumours were found to contain both the RANKL-overproducing prostate cancer cells, as well as the dormant cells, which had been transformed to become cancerous. Remarkably, the transformed cells displayed aggressive traits that would make them resistant to the normal hormone therapies used to treat prostate cancer.
The findings are preliminary as
|Contact: Omar Jamshed|