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Review

Breast cancer metastasis to the bone: mechanisms of bone loss

Yu-Chi Chen, Donna M Sosnoski and Andrea M Mastro*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2010, 12:215  doi:10.1186/bcr2781

Published: 16 December 2010

Abstract

Breast cancer frequently metastasizes to the skeleton, interrupting the normal bone remodeling process and causing bone degradation. Osteolytic lesions are the end result of osteoclast activity; however, osteoclast differentiation and activation are mediated by osteoblast production of RANKL (receptor activator for NFκB ligand) and several osteoclastogenic cytokines. Osteoblasts themselves are negatively affected by cancer cells as evidenced by an increase in apoptosis and a decrease in proteins required for new bone formation. Thus, bone loss is due to both increased activation of osteoclasts and suppression of osteoblasts. This review summarizes the current understanding of the osteolytic mechanisms of bone metastases, including a discussion of current therapies.