Background: Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) induce ectopic bone formation in vivo and may play a role in normal bone development. In addition, bone morphogenetic activity, as measured in a bone-forming assay in immunodeficient, athymic nu/nu mice, is present in a proportion of osteosarcomas; this activity, which may be mediated by BMP, is correlated with a poor prognosis.
Methods: The development of a monoclonal antibody against recombinant human BMP-2, AbH3b2/17, has allowed immunohistochemical localization of BMP in tumor tissues. Cryostat sections of osteosarcomas (21 tumor samples), chondrosarcomas (5 samples), and Ewing's sarcomas of bone (5 samples) were examined with AbH3b2/17 using the avidin-biotin-immunoperoxidase method.
Results: The authors found AbH3b2/17 immunoreactivity in 12 of the 21 osteosarcoma samples (57% sensitivity) obtained from 20 patients. For one patient, samples of the primary lesion and a subsequent metastasis were tested, and only the latter showed AbH3b2/17 immunoreactivity. The chondrosarcomas and Ewing's sarcomas examined showed no immunoreactivity. In antigen-positive osteosarcomas, AbH3b2/17 immunostaining was localized predominantly in the cytoplasm of tumor cells. Moreover, the proportion of AbH3b2/17-reactive cells varied among osteosarcomas with disparate histologic features.
Conclusions: The authors identified a rapid and widely applicable method for detecting BMP expression in intact tissues, which may complement and enhance the bone-forming assay in nu/nu mice as a prognostic procedure in osteosarcomas.