Prostate Osteoblast-Like Cells: A Reliable Prognostic Marker of Bone Metastasis in Prostate Cancer Patients

Manuel Scimeca, Nicoletta Urbano, Bonfiglio Rita, Sarah Natalia Mapelli, Carlo Vittorio Catapano, Giuseppina Maria Carbone, Sara Ciuffa, Mario Tavolozza, Orazio Schillaci, Alessandro Mauriello, Elena Bonanno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main aim of this study was to investigate the putative association among the presence of prostate cancer cells, defined as prostate osteoblast-like cells (POLCs), and showing the expression of typical morphological and molecular characteristics of osteoblasts, the development of bone metastasis within 5 years of diagnosis, and the uptake of 18F-choline evaluated by PET/CT analysis. To this end, prostate biopsies (n = 110) were collected comprising 44 benign lesions and 66 malignant lesions. Malignant lesions were further subdivided into two groups: biopsies from patients that had clinical evidence of bone metastasis (BM+, n = 23) and biopsies from patients that did not have clinical evidence of bone metastasis within 5 years (BM-, n = 43). Paraffin serial sections were obtained from each specimen to perform histological classifications and immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. Small fragments of tissue were used to perform ultrastructural and microanalytical investigations. IHC demonstrated the expression of markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (VIM), bone mineralization, and osteoblastic differentiation (BMP-2, PTX-3, RUNX2, RANKL, and VDR) in prostate lesions characterized by the presence of calcium-phosphate microcalcifications and high metastatic potential. Ultrastructural studies revealed the presence of prostate cancer cells with osteoblast phenotype close to microcalcifications. Noteworthy, PET/CT analysis showed higher uptake of 18F-choline in BM+ lesions with high positivity (≥300/500 cells) for RUNX2 and/or RANKL immunostaining. Although these data require further investigations about the molecular mechanisms of POLCs generation and role in bone metastasis, our study can open new and interesting prospective in the management of prostate cancer patients. The presence of POLCs along with prostate microcalcifications may become negative prognostic markers of the occurrence of bone metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9840962
JournalContrast Media and Molecular Imaging
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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