, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 609-617
Date: 16 Nov 2007

TGF-β and BMP7 interactions in tumour progression and bone metastasis

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The skeleton is the second most frequent site of metastasis. However, only a restricted number of solid cancers, especially those of the breast and prostate, are responsible for the majority of the bone metastases. Metastatic bone disease is a major cause of morbidity, characterised by severe pain and high incidence of skeletal and haematopoietic complications (fractures, spinal cord compression and bone marrow aplasia) requiring hospitalisation. Despite the frequency of skeletal metastases, the molecular mechanisms for their propensity to colonise bone are poorly understood and treatment options are often unsatisfactory. TGF-β and the signalling pathway it controls appears to play major roles in the pathogenesis of many carcinomas, both in their early stages, when TGF-β acts to arrest growth of many cell types, and later in cancer progression when it contributes, paradoxically, to the phenotype of tumour invasiveness. Here we discuss some novel insights of the TGF-β superfamily—including BMPs and their antagonists—in the formation of bone metastasis. Increasing evidence suggests that the TGF-β superfamily is involved in bone homing, tumour dormancy, and development of micrometastases into overt bone metastases. The established role of TGF-β/BMPs and their antagonists in epithelial plasticity during embryonic development closely resembles neoplastic processes at the primary site as well as in (bone) metastasis. For instance, the tumour-stroma interactions occurring in the tissue of cancer origin, including epithelium-to-mesenchyme transition (EMT), bear similarities with the role of bone matrix-derived TGF-β in skeletal metastasis formation.