The bisphosphonate ibandronate promotes apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells in bone metastases

T. Hiraga, P. J. Williams, G. R. Mundy, T. Yoneda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bisphosphonate (BP), a specific inhibitor of osteoclasts, has been widely used as a beneficial agent for the treatment of bone metastases in patients with breast cancer. It is well recognized that BP reduces osteolysis by promoting apoptosis in osteoclasts. However, recent animal and human data suggest that BPs not only reduce osteolysis associated with metastatic breast cancer, but also decrease tumor burden in bone. The mechanisms by which tumor burden is decreased following BP administration are unknown. Here we examined the effects of the BP ibandronate on MDA-231 human breast cancer cells in bone metastases in a well-characterized animal model of bone metastasis. Ibandronate, which was administered (s.c. daily; 4 μg/mouse/day) after bone metastases were established, inhibited the progression of established osteolytic bone metastases as assessed by radiographic analysis. Histological and histomorphometrical examination revealed that ibandronate reduced osteoclastic bone resorption, with increased apoptosis in osteoclasts. Furthermore, ibandronate also significantly decreased the MDA-231 tumor burden, with increased apoptosis in MDA-231 breast cancer cells in bone metastases. In contrast, ibandronate failed to inhibit MDA-231 tumor formation with no effects on apoptosis in MDA-231 breast cancer cells in the orthotopic mammary fat pads. These data suggest that the effects of ibandronate on apoptosis in MDA-231 breast cancer cells are restricted in bone in which ibandronate selectively deposits. Consistent with these in vivo results, a relatively high concentration of ibandronate (100 μM) increased caspase-3 activity and induced DNA fragmentation in MDA-231 breast cancer cells in culture. Moreover, a caspase inhibitor, z-Val-Ala-Asp-fluoromethyl ketone, blocked ibandronate-induced DNA fragmentation in MDA-231 cells, suggesting an involvement of caspase-3 in ibandronate-induced apoptosis. Our results suggest that BP suppresses bone metastases through promotion of apoptosis in metastatic cancer cells as well as in osteoclasts. However, it still remains open whether BP has direct anticancer actions in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4418-4424
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Volume61
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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