The paper by Angelucci et al. published in the current issue of Endocrine-Related Cancer suggests a potential, novel application of epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) in the treatment of bone metastases. Interestingly, activity of anti-EGFR agents on the pathogenesis and progression of bone metastases has been described in previous reports, and a number of different mechanisms seem to be involved in this phenomenon. Anti-EGFR agents have a direct activity on tumour cells in which they produce growth inhibition, apoptosis, and reduced invasive capacity through the inhibition of molecules associated with tissue invasion such as urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9. In addition, these compounds have an anti-angiogenic activity, either direct by affecting the proliferation and survival of endothelial cells, or indirect by blocking the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in bone marrow stromal cells and in tumour cells. Finally, EGFR-TKIs can inhibit recruitment of osteoclasts in bone lesions, by affecting the ability of bone marrow stromal cells to induce osteoclast differentiation and activation. Taken together, these findings strongly support prospective clinical trials of anti-EGFR agents in cancer patients with bone metastases in order to define their role in the management of bone disease
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