Prostate cancers frequently metastasize to the skeleton, and it has been hypothesized that this environment selectively supports the growth of these tumours. Specifically there is strong evidence that interactions between tumour cells and BMSCs (bone marrow stromal cells) play a major role in supporting prostate cancer growth and survival in bone. Here, we examine factors shown to be secreted by BMSCs, such as IGFs (insulin-like growth factors) and IL-6 (interleukin 6), shown to promote prostate cancer cell proliferation and to potentially replace the requirement for androgens. In addition we discuss another factor produced by BMSCs, osteoprotegerin, which may promote tumour cell survival by suppressing the biological activity of the pro-apoptotic ligand TRAIL (tumour-necrosis-factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand).

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