It is well established that bone metastases comprise bone; however, the exact factors/mechanisms involved remain unknown. We hypothesized that tumor cells secreted factors capable of altering normal bone metabolism. The aims of the present study were to (1) determine the effects of secretory products isolated from HT-39 cells, a human breast cancer cell line, on osteoprogenitor cell (MC3T3-E1 cells) behavior, and (2) identify tumor-derived factor(s) that alters osteoblast activities. Conditioned media (CM) from HT-39 cells were collected following a 24-h serum-free culture. The ability of CM to alter gene expression in MC3T3-E1 cells was determined by Northern analysis. CM effects on cell proliferation and mineralization ability were determined using a Coulter counter and von Kossa stain, respectively. MC3T3-E1 cells were treated with CM plus noggin, a factor known to block bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs), to determine whether BMPs, shown to be present in CM, were linked with CM effects on MC3T3-E1 cell activity. In addition, inhibitors of MAP kinase kinase (MEK), protein kinase C (PKC), and protein kinase A were used to identify the intracellular signaling pathway(s) by which the active factors in CM regulated osteoblast behavior. CM treatment significantly enhanced BSP mRNA (2.5-fold over control), but had no effect on cell proliferation. Mineralization assay showed that CM enhanced mineral nodule formation compared to controls. Noggin inhibited CM-induced upregulation of BSP mRNA, suggesting that BMPs were responsible for upregulating BSP gene expression in MC3T3-E1 cells. The PKC inhibitor blocked CM-mediated upregulation of BSP, suggesting involvement of the PKC pathway in regulating BSP expression. BMPs secreted by HT-39 cells may be responsible for enhancing BSP expression in MC3T3-E1 cells. Continued studies targeted at determining the role of BMPs in regulating bone metabolism are important for understanding the pathogenesis of bone diseases.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.