Therapeutic targets for bone metastases in breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 6;13(2):207. doi: 10.1186/bcr2835.


Breast cancer is prone to metastasize to bone. Once metastatic cells are in the bone marrow, they do not, on their own, destroy bone. Instead, they alter the functions of bone-resorbing (osteoclasts) and bone-forming cells (osteoblasts), resulting in skeletal complications that cause pathological fractures and pain. In this review, we describe promising molecular bone-targeted therapies that have arisen from recent advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of breast cancer bone metastases. These therapies target osteoclasts (receptor activator of nuclear factor kB ligand, integrin αvβ3, c-Src, cathepsin K), osteoblasts (dickkopf-1, activin A, endothelin A) and the bone marrow microenvironment (transforming growth factor β, bone morphogenetic proteins, chemokine CXCL-12 and its receptor CXCR4). The clinical exploitation of these bone-targeted agents will provide oncologists with novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of skeletal lesions in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Diseases / drug therapy
  • Bone Diseases / metabolism
  • Bone Diseases / pathology
  • Bone Marrow / drug effects
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Osteoblasts / drug effects
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteoblasts / pathology
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / pathology