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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Molecular Signaling Pathways Mediating Osteoclastogenesis Induced by Prostate Cancer Cells

Shahrzad Rafiei12 and Svetlana V Komarova123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Faculty of Medicine, 3640 University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B2, Canada

2 Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada, 1529 Cedar Avenue, room-300, Montreal, Quebec H3G IA6, Canada

3 Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, 3640 University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 0C7, Canada

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:605  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-605

Published: 26 December 2013



Advanced prostate cancer commonly metastasizes to bone leading to osteoblastic and osteolytic lesions. Although an osteolytic component governed by activation of bone resorbing osteoclasts is prominent in prostate cancer metastasis, the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis are not well-understood.


We studied the effect of soluble mediators released from human prostate carcinoma cells on osteoclast formation from mouse bone marrow and RAW 264.7 monocytes.


Soluble factors released from human prostate carcinoma cells significantly increased viability of naïve bone marrow monocytes, as well as osteoclastogenesis from precursors primed with receptor activator of nuclear factor κ-B ligand (RANKL). The prostate cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis was not mediated by RANKL as it was not inhibited by osteoprotegerin (OPG). However inhibition of TGFβ receptor I (TβRI), or macrophage-colony stimulating factor (MCSF) resulted in attenuation of prostate cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis. We characterized the signaling pathways induced in osteoclast precursors by soluble mediators released from human prostate carcinoma cells. Prostate cancer factors increased basal calcium levels and calcium fluctuations, induced nuclear localization of nuclear factor of activated t-cells (NFAT)c1, and activated prolonged phosphorylation of ERK1/2 in RANKL-primed osteoclast precursors. Inhibition of calcium signaling, NFATc1 activation, and ERK1/2 phosphorylation significantly reduced the ability of prostate cancer mediators to stimulate osteoclastogenesis.


This study reveals the molecular mechanisms underlying the direct osteoclastogenic effect of prostate cancer derived factors, which may be beneficial in developing novel osteoclast-targeting therapeutic approaches.

Prostate cancer; Bone metastasis; Osteoclast; Calcium signaling; NFATc1; ERK1/2