mTOR inhibitor and bone-targeted drugs break the vicious cycle between clear-cell renal carcinoma and osteoclasts in an in vitro co-culture model

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The skeleton is one of the most common sites of metastatic spread from advanced clear-cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC). Most of the bone lesions observed in RCC patients are classified as osteolytic, causing severe pain and morbidity due to pathological bone destruction. Nowadays, it is well known that cancer induced bone loss in lytic metastasis is caused by the triggering of a vicious cycle between cancer and bone resident cells that leads to an imbalance between bone formation and degradation. Targeting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an efficient treatment option for metastatic renal carcinoma patients. Moreover, bone targeted therapy could benefit bone metastatic cancer patients caused by advanced RCC. However, more data is needed to support the hypothesis of the beneficial effect of a combined therapy. The aim of this work is to investigate the effect of targeting mTOR and the sequential combination with bone targeted therapy as a strategy to break the vicious cycle between ccRCC cells and osteoclasts. A previously optimized fully human co-culture model is used to mimic the crosstalk between Caki-2 cells (ccRCC) and osteoclasts. Cells are treated at fixed timing with everolimus, zoledronic acid and denosumab as single or sequential combined treatment. We show that Caki-2 cells can induce osteoclast cells differentiation from isolated human monocytes, as demonstrated by specific tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining and f-actin ring formation, in a statistically significant manner. Moreover, differentiated osteoclasts proved to be functionally active by pit formation assay. Caki-2 cells co-cultured with osteoclasts acquire a more aggressive phenotype based on gene expression analysis. Interestingly, the sequential combined treatment of everolimus and zoledronic acid is the most effective in the inhibition of both Caki-2 cells survival and osteoclastogenic potential, making it an effective strategy to inhibit the vicious cycle of bone metastasis. At preclinical level, this observation confirms the value of our co-culture model as a useful tool to mimic the bone microenvironment and to assess drug sensitivity in vitro. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in tumor-bone cells crosstalk will be investigated next.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100227
JournalJournal of Bone Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Bone metastasis
  • Co-culture
  • Osteoclasts
  • Renal carcinoma
  • Targeted therapy
  • Vicious cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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