Clinical & Experimental Metastasis

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 253-260

First online:

Expression of bone sialoprotein and osteopontin in breast cancer bone metastases

  • Tharwat IbrahimAffiliated withMedical Research Council Group in Periodontal Physiology
  • , Iona LeongAffiliated withMedical Research Council Group in Periodontal Physiology
  • , Otto Sanchez-SweatmanAffiliated withOntario Cancer Institute
  • , Rama KhokhaAffiliated withOntario Cancer Institute
  • , Jaro SodekAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry, Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine, University of Toronto
  • , Howard C. TenenbaumAffiliated withMedical Research Council Group in Periodontal Physiology
  • , Bernard GanssAffiliated withMedical Research Council Group in Periodontal Physiology
  • , Sela CheifetzAffiliated withMedical Research Council Group in Periodontal Physiology

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Bone sialoprotein (BSP) and osteopontin (OPN) are prominent, mineral-associated proteins in the extracellular matrix of bone that have been implicated in the metastatic activity of cancer cells. The expression of BSP, which is normally restricted to mineralizing tissues, has been observed in cancers with a high propensity for forming bone metastases. To investigate the relationship between BSP expression and the formation of bone metastases we have conducted an initial study of the expression of BSP in 10 intraductal breast carcinoma bone metastases using immunostaining and in situ hybridization, and compared the expression with OPN. The metastases were characterized by the infiltration of tumour cells into bone with extensive bone resorption evident. Moderate to strong staining for BSP was observed in all (100%) carcinomas, which also expressed BSP mRNA as determined by in situ hybridization. Variable staining for BSP was also observed in the mineralized bone and expression of BSP mRNA could be observed in osteoblastic cells on the bone surface and in some osteocytes at sites of bone remodelling. Contrary to a previous report, BSP expression could be demonstrated by PCR in three breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7, T47-D and MDA-MB-231. Moreover, in sub-cutaneous tumours formed by MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells injected into athymic mice, higher immunostaining for BSP was seen in large ulcerating tumours in which mineral deposits were formed. In contrast to BSP, staining for OPN in bone metastases was generally restricted to the interface between tumor cells and bone surface of the carcinomas. While OPN staining was also observed in the cytoplasm of osteoclasts, which showed strong hybridization to a digoxygenin-labelled OPN cRNA probe, expression of OPN was not clearly detectable in the tumour cells. These studies provide the first demonstration of BSP expression by tumour cells in bone metastases and support the concept that BSP may have a role in targeting metastatic cells to bone. Expression of OPN in bone metastases appears to be related to increased bone resorptive activity by osteoclasts.

bone sialoprotein osteopontin breast cancer metastasis bone metastases immunohistochemistry in situ hybridization