Oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) are malignant tumors that frequently invade the maxilla and mandibular bone. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying bone invasion by OSCC are unclear. Recent studies showed that receptor activator of nuclear factor κB (RANK) was expressed not only in osteoclast precursors but also in tumor cells. Therefore, we examined whether RANK ligand (RANKL)/RANK signaling regulates bone invasion by OSCC cells in vivo and in vitro. We first injected human OSCC B88 cells into the masseter region of nude mice. Mice were treated for 3 weeks with osteoprotegerin (OPG), the decoy receptor for RANKL. Treatment with OPG decreased bone invasion by B88 cells, reduced the number of osteoclasts and increased B88 cell apoptosis. However, OPG did not affect apoptosis and proliferation in B88 cells in vitro, suggesting that the effects of OPG on apoptosis in B88 cells are restricted in a bone environment. RANK was expressed in the B88 cells and in OSCC cells from patients. RANKL induced NF-κB activation and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation in B88 cells and enhanced B88 cell migration in a modified chemotaxis chamber equipped with a gelatin-coated filter. OPG inhibited RANKL-induced NF-κB activation, extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation and cell migration. Our data clearly indicate that RANKL/RANK inhibition suppresses bone invasion by inhibiting osteoclastogenesis and cancer cell migration and by inducing apoptosis of cancer cells via indirect anticancer action in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research