Author(s): Pinski J, Parikh A, Bova GS, Isaacs JT
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Abstract Osteoblastic metastases are common in lethal prostate cancer. Effective therapy for bone metastases is lacking. Thus, developing an appropriate in vitro screening system is critical to prioritize which of the newly developed agents should undergo additional expensive and time-consuming in vivo evaluation in bone metastases animal models. In the past, such in vitro screening evaluated the response of prostate cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents in monoculture without the presence of osteoblasts. In such monoculture, prostate cancer cells have a high (i.e., >90\%) proliferative growth fraction. In contrast, the growth fraction (i.e., mean: 7.1 +/- 0.8\%; median: 3.1\%) in 117 metastatic sites of prostate cancer obtained from 11 androgen ablation failing patients at "warm" autopsy was found to be >10-fold lower. To better mimic the lower growth fraction observed clinically, LNCaP human prostate cancer cells were cocultured with membrane-separated hFOB human osteoblasts. Such coculturing significantly lowered the growth fraction of the LNCaP cells (i.e., from >90 to <30\%) without enhancing their low rate (i.e., <5\%) of apoptosis. This lowering of the growth fraction was documented using flow cytometry, Ki-67 immunohistochemistry, and 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine incorporation. Using RNase protection assays, it was documented that coculture with osteoblasts causes enhanced p53, p27, and p21 expression leading to a decrease in the number of LNCaP cells entering the cell cycle (i.e., enhanced number of LNCaP cells in G(0)-G(1) and a decrease in S and G(2)-M and thus the growth fraction). This osteoblast-induced enhanced G(0)-G(1) checkpoint control affected the chemosensitivity of LNCaP cells. This was documented by coculturing LNCaP cells with hFOB cells to condition the medium for 3 days to lower the growth fraction to <30\% before exposing the LNCaP cells for 48 h to various concentrations of Taxol, doxorubicin, or thapsigargin (TG). In standard high (i.e., >90\%) growth fraction cultures (i.e., cultures in the absence of osteoblast-conditioned medium), there was a dose-dependent and significant (P < 0.05) increase in apoptosis of LNCaP cells exposed to Taxol or doxorubicin. In contrast, even the highest dose of Taxol (1 microM) did not enhance apoptosis of lower growth fraction LNCaP cells cultured in osteoblast-conditioned medium. Similarly, only the highest concentration of doxorubicin (1 microM) enhanced apoptosis in lower growth fraction cells. In contrast, 100 nM TG induced high levels of apoptosis in both lower and high-growth fraction LNCaP cultures. These results demonstrate that the osteoblast/LNCaP coculture system is a better in vitro screen than monoculture to identify proliferation-independent agents for the treatment of prostate cancer bone metastases, and TG is such an agent.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology