Antagonism of Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins Increases Bone Metastasis via Unexpected Osteoclast Activation


Chang Yang, Jennifer L. Davis, Rong Zeng, Paras Vora, Xinming Su, Lynne I. Collins, Suwanna Vangveravong, Robert H. Mach, David Piwnica-Worms, Katherine N. Weilbaecher, Roberta Faccio, and Deborah Veis Novack


Inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins play a central role in many types of cancer, and IAP antagonists are in development as anticancer agents. IAP antagonists cause apoptosis in many cells, but they also activate alternative NF-κB signaling through NF-κB–inducing kinase (NIK), which regulates osteoclasts. In bone metastasis, a positive feedback loop between tumors and osteoclasts promotes tumor growth and osteolysis. We therefore tested the effect of IAP antagonists on the bone microenvironment for metastasis. In both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tumors, growth in bone was favored, as compared with other sites during IAP antagonist treatment. These drugs also caused osteoporosis and increased osteoclastogenesis, mediated by NIK, and enhanced tumor-associated osteolysis. Cotreatment with zoledronic acid, a potent osteoclast inhibitor, reduced IAP antagonist–enhanced tumor growth in bone and osteolysis. Thus, IAP antagonist–based cancer treatment may be compromised by osteoporosis and enhanced skeletal metastasis, which may be prevented by antiresorptive agents. Significance: Although IAP antagonists are a class of anticancer agents with proven efficacy in multiple cancers, we show that these agents can paradoxically increase tumor growth and metastasis in the bone by stabilizing NIK and activating the alternative NF-κB pathway in osteoclasts. Future clinical trials of IAP antagonist–based therapy may require detailed examination of this potential for enhanced bone metastasis and osteoporosis, as well as possible combination with antiresorptive agents.

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