The uncovered role of immune cells and nk cells in the regulation of bone metastasis

Ilaria Roato, Massimo Vitale

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bone is one of the main metastatic sites of solid tumors like breast, lung, and prostate cancer. Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) and cancer stem cells (CSCs) represent the main target to counteract bone metastatization. These cells often localize in bone marrow (BM) at level of pre-metastatic niche: They can remain dormant for years or directly grow and create bone lesion, according to the different stimulations received in BM. The immune system in bone marrow is dampened and represents an appealing site for DTCs/CSCs. NK cells have an important role in controlling tumor progression, but their involvement in bone metastasis formation is an interesting and not fully investigated issue. Indeed, whether NK cells can interfere with CSC formation, kill them at the site of primary tumor, during circulation or in the pre-metastic niche needs to be elucidated. This review focuses on different aspects that regulate DTC/CSC life in bone and how NK cells potentially control bone metastasis formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • bone metastases
  • cancer stem cells
  • dormancy
  • immune response
  • NK cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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