The pivotal role of CXCL12 (SDF-1)/CXCR4 axis in bone metastasis

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2006 Dec;25(4):573-87. doi: 10.1007/s10555-006-9019-x.


Tumor cells are known to adapt to and utilize existing physiological mechanisms to promote survival and metastasis. The role of the microenvironment in the establishment of a metastatic lesion has become increasingly important as several factors secreted by stromal cells regulate metastatic pattern in a variety of tumor types. Tumor cells interact with osteoblasts, osteoclasts and bone matrix to form a vicious cycle that is essential for successful metastases. Here we review the current concepts regarding the role of an important chemokine/chemokine receptor (SDF-1 or CXCL12/CXCR4) pathway in tumor development and metastasis. CXCL12 secretion by stromal cells is known to attract cancer cells via stimulation of the CXCR4 receptor that is up regulated by tumor cells. CXCL12/CXCR4 activation regulates the pattern of metastatic spread with organs expressing high levels of CXCL12 developing secondary tumors (i.e., the bone marrow compartment). CXCL12 has a wide range of effects in regards to tumor development but the primary role of CXCL12 appears to be the mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells and the establishment of the cancer stem-like cell niche where high levels of CXCL12 recruit a highly tumorigenic population of tumor cells and promotes cell survival, proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*


  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, CXCR4