Crosstalk between bone niche and immune system: Osteoimmunology signaling as a potential target for cancer treatment

Carmen Criscitiello, Giulia Viale, Lucia Gelao, Angela Esposito, Michele De Laurentiis, Sabino De Placido, Michele Santangelo, Aron Goldhirsch, Giuseppe Curigliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a well recognized link between the bone and the immune system and in recent years there has been a major effort to elucidate the multiple functions of the molecules expressed in both bone and immune cells. Several molecules that were initially identified and studied in the immune system have been shown to have essential functions also in the bone. An interdisciplinary field embracing immune and bone biology has been brought together and called "osteoimmunology".The co-regulation of the skeletal and immune systems strikingly exemplifies the extreme complexity of such an interaction. Their interdependency must be considered in designing therapeutic approaches for either of the two systems. In other words, it is necessary to think of the osteoimmune system as a complex physiological unit. Denosumab was originally introduced to specifically target bone resorption, but it is now under evaluation for its effect on the long term immune response. Similarly, our current and still growing knowledge of the intimate link between the immune system and bone will be beneficial for the safety of drugs targeting either of these integrated systems. Given the large number of molecules exerting functions on both the skeletal and immune systems, osteoimmunological understanding is becoming increasingly important. Both bone and immune systems are frequently disrupted in cancer; and they may be crucial in regulating tumor growth and progression. Some therapies - such as bisphosphonates and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) targeted drugs - that aim at reducing pathologic osteolysis in cancer may interact with the immune system, thus providing potential favorable effects on survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Bone
  • Cancer
  • Immune system
  • Osteoimmunology
  • RANK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Medicine(all)


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