A Novel Primary Cilium-Mediated Mechanism Through which Osteocytes Regulate Metastatic Behavior of Both Breast and Prostate Cancer Cells

Organ Model: Breast and prostate cancer bone metastasis model

Application: Cancer

Abstract: Bone metastases are a common cause of suffering in breast and prostate cancer patients, however, the interaction between bone cells and cancer cells is poorly understood. Using a series of co-culture, conditioned media, human cancer spheroid, and organ-on-a-chip experiments, this study reveals that osteocytes suppress cancer cell proliferation and increase migration via tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) secretion. This action is regulated by osteocyte primary cilia and associated intraflagellar transport protein 88 (IFT88). Furthermore, it shows that cancer cells block this mechanism by secreting transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), which disrupts osteocyte cilia and IFT88 gene expression. This bi-directional crosstalk signaling between osteocytes and cancer cells is common to both breast and prostate cancer. This study also proposes that osteocyte inhibition of cancer cell proliferation decreases as cancer cells increase, producing more TGF-β. Hence, a positive feedback loop develops accelerating metastatic tumor growth. These findings demonstrate the importance of cancer cell-osteocyte signaling in regulating breast and prostate bone metastases and support the development of therapies targeting this pathway.