The Contribution of the Immune System in Bone Metastasis Pathogenesis

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Feb 25;20(4):999. doi: 10.3390/ijms20040999.


Bone metastasis is associated with significant morbidity for cancer patients and results in a reduced quality of life. The bone marrow is a fertile soil containing a complex composition of immune cells that may actually provide an immune-privileged niche for disseminated tumor cells to colonize and proliferate. In this unique immune milieu, multiple immune cells including T cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and neutrophils are involved in the process of bone metastasis. In this review, we will discuss the crosstalk between immune cells in bone microenvironment and their involvement with cancer cell metastasis to the bone. Furthermore, we will highlight the anti-tumoral and pro-tumoral function of each immune cell type that contributes to bone metastasis. We will end with a discussion of current therapeutic strategies aimed at sensitizing immune cells.

Keywords: bone metastasis; immune system; immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Quality of Life
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*