Taverna, S.; Pucci, M.; Giallombardo, M.; Di Bella, M. A.; Santarpia, M. ; Reclusa, P.; Gil Bazo, Ignacio
; Rolfo, C.; Alessandro, R.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The majority of patients are diagnosed in advanced disease stage. Bone metastasis is the most frequent complication in NSCLC resulting in osteolytic lesions. The perfect balance between bone-resorbing osteoclasts and bone-forming osteoblasts activity is lost in bone metastasis, inducing osteoclastogenesis. In NSCLC, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway is constitutively activated. EGFR binds Amphiregulin (AREG) that is overexpressed in several cancers such as colon, breast and lung. Its levels in plasma of NSCLC patients correlate with poor prognosis and AREG was recently found as a signaling molecule in exosomes derived from cancer cell lines. Exosomes have a key role in the cell-cell communication and they were recently indicated as important actors in metastatic niche preparation. In the present work, we hypothesize a role of AREG carried by exosomes derived from NSCLC in bone metastasis induction. We observed that NSCLC-exosomes, containing AREG, induce EGFR pathway activation in pre-osteoclasts that in turn causes an increased expression of RANKL. RANKL is able to induce the expression of proteolytic enzymes, well-known markers of osteoclastogenesis, triggering a vicious cycle in osteolytic bone metastasis.