Background: Hyaluronan (HA) plays crucial roles in the tumourigenicity of many types of malignant tumours. 4-Methylumbelliferone (MU) is an inhibitor of HA synthesis. Several studies have shown its inhibitory effects on malignant tumours; however, none have focused on its effects on osteosarcoma.
Methods: We investigated the effects of MU on HA accumulation and tumourigenicity of highly metastatic murine osteosarcoma cells (LM8) that have HA-rich cell-associated matrix, and human osteosarcoma cell lines (MG-63 and HOS).
Results: In vitro, MU inhibited HA retention, thereby reducing the formation of functional cell-associated matrices, and also inhibited cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. Akt phosphorylation was suppressed by MU (1.0 mM). In vivo, although MU showed only a mild inhibitory effect on the growth of the primary tumour, it markedly inhibited (75% reduction) the development of lung metastasis. Hyaluronan retention in the periphery of the primary tumour was markedly suppressed by MU.
Conclusion: These findings suggested that MU suppressed HA retention and cell-associated matrix formation in osteosarcoma cells, resulting in a reduction of tumourigenicity, including lung metastasis. 4-Methylumbelliferone is a promising therapeutic agent targeting both primary tumours and distant metastasis of osteosarcoma, possibly via suppression of HA retention.