Application of a human bone engineering platform to an in vitro and in vivo breast cancer metastasis model

Reichert, Verena Maria Charlotte (2011) Application of a human bone engineering platform to an in vitro and in vivo breast cancer metastasis model. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Breast cancer in its advanced stage has a high predilection to the skeleton. Currently, treatment options of breast cancer-related bone metastasis are restricted to only palliative therapeutic modalities. This is due to the fact that mechanisms regarding the breast cancer celI-bone colonisation as well as the interactions of breast cancer cells with the bone microenvironment are not fully understood, yet. This might be explained through a lack of appropriate in vitro and in vivo models that are currently addressing the above mentioned issue.

Hence the hypothesis that the translation of a bone tissue engineering platform could lead to improved and more physiological in vitro and in vivo model systems in order to investigate breast cancer related bone colonisation was embraced in this PhD thesis.

Therefore the first objective was to develop an in vitro model system that mimics human mineralised bone matrix to the highest possible extent to examine the specific biological question, how the human bone matrix influences breast cancer cell behaviour. Thus, primary human osteoblasts were isolated from human bone and cultured under osteogenic conditions. Upon ammonium hydroxide treatment, a cell-free intact mineralised human bone matrix was left behind. Analyses revealed a similar protein and mineral composition of the decellularised osteoblast matrix to human bone. Seeding of a panel of breast cancer cells onto the bone mimicking matrix as well as reference substrates like standard tissue culture plastic and collagen coated tissue culture plastic revealed substrate specific differences of cellular behaviour. Analyses of attachment, alignment, migration, proliferation, invasion, as well as downstream signalling pathways showed that these cellular properties were influenced through the osteoblast matrix.

The second objective of this PhD project was the development of a human ectopic bone model in NOD/SCID mice using medical grade polycaprolactone tricalcium phosphate (mPCL-TCP) scaffold. Human osteoblasts and mesenchymal stem cells were seeded onto an mPCL-TCP scaffold, fabricated using a fused deposition modelling technique. After subcutaneous implantation in conjunction with the bone morphogenetic protein 7, limited bone formation was observed due to the mechanical properties of the applied scaffold and restricted integration into the soft tissue of flank of NOD/SCID mice. Thus, a different scaffold fabrication technique was chosen using the same polymer. Electrospun tubular scaffolds were seeded with human osteoblasts, as they showed previously the highest amount of bone formation and implanted into the flanks of NOD/SCID mice. Ectopic bone formation with sufficient vascularisation could be observed. After implantation of breast cancer cells using a polyethylene glycol hydrogel in close proximity to the newly formed bone, macroscopic communication between the newly formed bone and the tumour could be observed.

Taken together, this PhD project showed that bone tissue engineering platforms could be used to develop an in vitro and in vivo model system to study cancer cell colonisation in the bone microenvironment.

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ID Code: 53212
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hutmacher, Dietmar, Clements, Judith, & Nelson, Colleen
Keywords: breast cancer, bone metastasis, human osteoblast matrix, breast cancer related bone disease, adhesion, single cell force spectroscopy, migration, invasion, tissue engineering, scaffold, polycaprolactone, osteoblasts, human mesenchymal stem cells
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Aug 2012 02:22
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2012 02:22

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