Bone metastases are often associated with osteolysis and subsequent pathological fractures. To determine if metastatic human cancer cells can directly degrade non-mineralized and mineralized bone, we used prostate PC3 adenocarcinoma cell lines, which were originally established from skeletal metastases. We show that PC3 cells and their conditioned medium degraded non-mineralized, osteoid-like radiolabelled extracellular matrices from human Saos2 and U2OS osteoblast-like cells. These cells also directly degraded mineralized bone by inducing 45Ca release from rat fetal calvariae and forming resorption pits on bone slices, an effect increased by transforming growth factor-β1. A role for matrix metalloproteinases in degradation was shown by: (1) stimulation by the phorbol ester TPA of PC3-induced matrix degradation and release of matrix metalloproteinase activity; (2) abrogation of matrix degradation by 1,10-phenanthroline, a metalloproteinase inhibitor, and (3) degradation of purified type I collagen by PC3 cells and their conditioned medium. We demonstrate that human prostate cancer cells can directly degrade bone-related matrices and that matrix metalloproteinases have a role in this process.

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