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Prostatic adenocarcinoma commonly metastasizes to bone. Unlike most other bony secondaries, the majority of skeletal prostatic metastases are osteoblastic rather than osteolytic in nature. Several growth factors which are known to stimulate bone formation are expressed in benign and malignant prostate cells, but none has been specifically linked to osteosclerotic metastases. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) induce ectopic bone formation in vivo. We have reported previously that BMP-6 mRNA and protein are expressed in the majority of primary prostatic carcinomas with established skeletal metastases but rarely in clinically organ-confined tumours. This study examines the expression of BMP-6 mRNA in matched prostatic primary and secondary bony lesions and in isolated skeletal metastases from prostatic adenocarcinomas, as well as other common human malignancies, by in situ hybridization. BMP-6 mRNA was detected in 11 out of 13 bone metastases from prostate carcinoma and in three paired samples of primary prostate carcinoma and matching skeletal metastasis. Weak signals for BMP-6 were also present in 5 out of 17 skeletal deposits from non-prostatic malignancies. BMP-6 mRNA appears to be strongly expressed in prostatic adenocarcinomas, both in the primary tumour and in bone metastases. It is also expressed, though less frequently, in skeletal metastases from other human carcinomas. Our findings suggest that BMP-6 may hold potential as an attractive marker and possible mediator of skeletal metastases, particularly in prostate carcinoma.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1219 - 1223


Adenocarcinoma, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Bone Neoplasms, Humans, In Situ Hybridization, Male, Prostatic Neoplasms, RNA, Messenger