Bone metastasis is associated with acquisition of mesenchymal phenotype and immune suppression in a model of spontaneous breast cancer metastasis

Sci Rep. 2020 Aug 14;10(1):13838. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70788-3.


The most common site of breast cancer metastasis is the bone, occurring in approximately 70% of patients with advanced disease. Bone metastasis is associated with severe morbidities and high mortality. Therefore, deeper understanding of the mechanisms that enable bone-metastatic relapse are urgently needed. We report the establishment and characterization of a bone-seeking variant of breast cancer cells that spontaneously forms aggressive bone metastases following surgical resection of primary tumor. We characterized the modifications in the immune milieu during early and late stages of metastatic relapse and found that the formation of bone metastases is associated with systemic changes, as well as modifications of the bone microenvironment towards an immune suppressive milieu. Furthermore, we characterized the intrinsic changes in breast cancer cells that facilitate bone-tropism and found that they acquire mesenchymal and osteomimetic features. This model provides a clinically relevant platform to study the functional interactions between breast cancer cells and the bone microenvironment, in an effort to identify novel targets for intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / immunology
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology