A novel immunocompetent model of metastatic prostate cancer-induced bone pain

Zhiqiang Liu, Stephen F. Murphy, Jian Huang, Lan Zhao, Christel C. Hall, Anthony J. Schaeffer, Edward M. Schaeffer, Praveen Thumbikat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Over 70% to 85% of men with advanced prostate cancer (PCa) develop bone metastases characterized by severe bone pain and increased likelihood of bone fracture. These clinical features result in decreased quality of life and act as a predictor of higher mortality. Mechanistically, the skeletal pathologies such as osteolytic lesions and abnormal osteoblastic activity drive these symptoms. The role of immune cells in bone cancer pain remains understudied, here we sought to recapitulate this symptomology in a murine model. Methods: The prostate cancer bone metastasis-induced pain model (CIBP) was established by transplanting a mouse prostate cancer cell line into the femur of immunocompetent mice. Pain development, gait dynamics, and the changes in emotional activities like depression and anxiety were evaluated. Animal tissues including femurs, dorsal root ganglion (DRG), and spinal cord were collected at killing and microcomputed tomography (μCT), histology/immunohistochemistry, and quantitative immunofluorescent analysis were performed. Results: Mice receiving prostate cancer cells showed a significantly lower threshold for paw withdrawal responses induced by mechanical stimulation compared with their control counterparts. Zero maze and DigiGait analyses indicated reduced and aberrant movement associated emotional activity compared with sham control at 8-weeks postinjection. The μCT analysis showed osteolytic and osteoblastic changes and a 50% reduction of the trabecular volumes within the prostate cancer group. Neurologically we demonstrated, increased calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and neuronal p75NTR immune-reactivities in both the projected terminals of the superficial dorsal horn and partial afferent neurons in DRG at L2 to L4 level in tumor-bearing mice. Furthermore, our data show elevated nerve growth factor (NGF) and TrkA immunoreactivities in the same segment of the superficial dorsal horn that were, however, not colocalized with CGRP and p75NTR. Conclusions: This study describes a novel immunocompetent model of CIBP and demonstrates the contribution of NGF and p75NTR to chronic pain in bone metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-794
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • bone metastasis
  • bone pain
  • neuroimmune
  • neuropeptide
  • prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


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