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Oncostatin M (OSM) is an interleukin-6 (IL-6) family cytokine that has been implicated in a number of biological processes including inflammation, hematopoiesis, immune responses, development, and bone homeostasis. Recent evidence suggests that OSM may promote breast tumor invasion and metastasis. We investigated the role of OSM in the formation of bone metastases in vivo using the 4T1.2 mouse mammary tumor model in which OSM expression was knocked down using shRNA (4T1.2-OSM). 4T1.2-OSM cells were injected orthotopically into Balb/c mice, resulting in a greater than 97% decrease in spontaneous metastasis to bone compared to control cells. Intratibial injection of these same 4T1.2-OSM cells also dramatically reduced the osteolytic destruction of trabecular bone volume compared to control cells. Furthermore, in a tumor resection model, mice bearing 4T1.2-OSM tumors showed an increase in survival by a median of 10 days. To investigate the specific cellular mechanisms important for OSM-induced osteolytic metastasis to bone, an in vitro model was developed using the RAW 264.7 preosteoclast cell line co-cultured with 4T1.2 mouse mammary tumor cells. Treatment of co-cultures with OSM resulted in a 3-fold induction of osteoclastogenesis using the TRAP assay. We identified several tumor cell–induced factors including vascular endothelial growth factor, IL-6, and a previously uncharacterized OSM-regulated bone metastasis factor, amphiregulin (AREG), which increased osteoclast differentiation by 4.5-fold. In addition, pretreatment of co-cultures with an anti-AREG neutralizing antibody completely reversed OSM-induced osteoclastogenesis. Our results suggest that one mechanism for OSM-induced osteoclast differentiation is via an AREG autocrine loop, resulting in decreased osteoprotegerin secretion by the 4T1.2 cells. These data provide evidence that OSM might be an important therapeutic target for the prevention of breast cancer metastasis to bone.

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This document was originally published by SAGE in Genes & Cancer. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1177/1947601912458284

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