Certain solid tumors metastasize to bone, causing an osteoblastic response. The mechanisms by which tumor cells stimulate this new bone formation are not understood completely. We identified three breast cancer lines that cause osteoblastic metastases in female nude mice and provide evidence that tumor-produced endothelin-1 (ET-1) mediates the osteoblastic response. Tumor-conditioned media and exogenous ET-1 stimulated osteoblast proliferation and new bone formation in cultures of calvarias from mice. These effects were blocked by endothelin A (ETA) but not by ETB receptor antagonists. Mice inoculated with the ZR-75-1 breast cancer line and treated with a selective ETA receptor antagonist (ABT-627) had significantly fewer osteoblastic bone metastases and less tumor burden compared with untreated mice. In contrast, there was no effect of ABT-627 on osteolytic bone metastases caused by ET-1-negative breast cancer, MDA-MB-231. ABT-627 had no effect on cell growth in vitro or at the orthotopic site (mammary fat pad) of ZR-75-1, or MDA-MB-231 cells. Collectively, the data suggest that tumor-produced ET-1 mediates osteoblastic bone metastases by stimulating osteoblast proliferation and new bone formation. Endothelin A receptor blockade may be useful for the prevention and treatment of osteoblastic bone metastases attributable to breast or prostate cancer.

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