Background: The prognosis for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is related to a high rate of metastasis, including 30% of bone metastasis. Characteristic for bone tissue is a high concentration of calcium ions. In this study, we show a promoting effect of an enhanced extracellular calcium concentration on mechanisms of bone metastasis via the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) and its downstream signaling molecules.
Methods: Our analyses were performed using 33 (11/category) matched specimens of normal and tumor tissue and 9 (3/category) primary cells derived from RCC patients of the 3 categories: non-metastasized, metastasized into the lung and metastasized into bones during a five-year period after nephrectomy. Expression of CaSR was determined by RT-PCR, Western blot analyses and flow cytometry, respectively. Cells were treated by calcium and the CaSR inhibitor NPS 2143. Cell migration was measured in a Boyden chamber with calcium (10 μM) as chemotaxin and proliferation by BrdU incorporation. The activity of intracellular signaling mediators was quantified by a phospho-kinase array and Western blot.
Results: The expression of CaSR was highest in specimens and cells of patients with bone metastases. Calcium treatment induced an increased migration (19-fold) and proliferation (2.3-fold) exclusively in RCC cells from patients with bone metastases. The CaSR inhibitor NPS 2143 elucidated the role of CaSR on the calcium-dependent effects. After treatment with calcium, the activity of AKT, PLCγ-1, p38α and JNK was clearly enhanced and PTEN expression was almost completely abolished in bone metastasizing RCC cells.
Conclusions: Our results indicate a promoting effect of extracellular calcium on cell migration and proliferation of bone metastasizing RCC cells via highly expressed CaSR and its downstream signaling pathways. Consequently, CaSR may be regarded as a new prognostic marker predicting RCC bone metastasis.