Breast cancer bone metastases often cause a debilitating non-curable condition with osteolytic lesions, muscle weakness and a high mortality. Current treatment comprises chemotherapy, irradiation, surgery and anti-resorptive drugs that restrict but do not revert bone destruction. In metastatic breast cancer cells, we determined the expression of sclerostin, a soluble Wnt inhibitor that represses osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. In mice with breast cancer bone metastases, pharmacological inhibition of sclerostin using an anti-sclerostin antibody (Scl-Ab) reduced metastases without tumor cell dissemination to other distant sites. Sclerostin inhibition prevented the cancer-induced bone destruction by augmenting osteoblast-mediated bone formation and reducing osteoclast-dependent bone resorption. During advanced disease, NF-κB and p38 signaling was increased in muscles in a TGF-β1-dependent manner, causing muscle fiber atrophy, muscle weakness and tissue regeneration with an increase in Pax7-positive satellite cells. Scl-Ab treatment restored NF-κB and p38 signaling, the abundance of Pax7-positive cells and ultimately muscle function. These effects improved the overall health condition and expanded the life span of cancer-bearing mice. Together, these results demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of sclerostin reduces bone metastatic burden and muscle weakness with a prolongation of the survival time. This might provide novel options for treating musculoskeletal complications in breast cancer patients.
Eric Hesse, Saskia Schröder, Diana Brandt, Jenny Pamperin, Hiroaki Saito, Hanna Taipaleenmäki