Changes in Bone Marrow Microenvironment Over Time During Breast Cancer Metastatic Colonization

  • Mastro, Andrea Marie (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details



The skeleton is a preferred site for breast cancer metastasis. Once cancer cells reach the bone, they traffic to ends of the long bones and other metabolically active areas. They disturb the normal cells and cause bone loss. Sometimes cancer cells remain dormant in the bone for many years, but suddenly begin to multiply. The interaction of the cancer and bone cells occurs through small molecules, cytokines, released by both cell types. These cytokines change the environment, and may explain why cancer cells do or do not grow. We will use a mouse model to test the hypothesis that metastatic and non-metastatic cells will change the bone microenvironment in different ways through the expression of cytokines, and that cytokines will be expressed differently over the course of the metastatic process. We will inject metastatic human breast cancer cells, MDA-MB-231GFP, or a non-metastic variant, MDA-MB-231BRMSGFP, into athymic mice in a way that they will traffic to bone. We will collect the bone marrow plasma from the femur's ends and shafts, and assay for the presence of several cytokines. The information may provide a cytokine profile indicative of metastasis versus dormancy. The cytokine profile may also indicate how much the metastases have grown. A clinical assay might involve a bone biopsy, but serum cytokines may be sufficient. Tests for the presence of a signature set of cytokines in the marrow or serum may also help in treatment, as the cytokines may also be potential targets to block the growth of the metastatic cells.

Effective start/end date1/1/0712/31/07


  • U.S. Department of Defense: $110,550.00


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