Many solid cancers metastasize to the bone and bone marrow (BM). This process may occur even before the diagnosis of primary tumors, as evidenced by the discovery of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in patients without occult malignancies. The cellular fates and metastatic progression of DTCs are determined by complicated interactions between cancer cells and BM niches. Not surprisingly, these niches also play important roles in normal biology, including homeostasis and turnover of skeletal and hematopoiesis systems. In this Review, we summarize recent findings on functions of BM niches in bone metastasis (BoMet), particularly during the early stage of colonization. In light of the rich knowledge of hematopoiesis and osteogenesis, we highlight how DTCs may progress into overt BoMet by taking advantage of niche cells and their activities in tissue turnover, especially those related to immunomodulation and bone repair.
Aaron M. Muscarella, Sergio Aguirre, Xiaoxin Hao, Sarah M. Waldvogel, Xiang H.-F. Zhang
Disseminated tumor cells utilize bone marrow niches to survive and colonize.