CXCR4 in human osteosarcoma malignant progression. The response of osteosarcoma cell lines to the fully human CXCR4 antibody MDX1338

Serena Pollino, Emanuela Palmerini, Barbara Dozza, Elisa Bientinesi, Martina Piccinni-Leopardi, Enrico Lucarelli, Alberto Righi, Maria Serena Benassi, Laura Pazzaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most frequent primary malignant tumour of bone and metastases occur in 30% of cases, the 5-year survival rate is 25–30%. Although pre- and post-operative chemotherapy has improved prognosis in osteosarcoma (OS), high toxicity and natural and acquired drug-resistance are the first cause of treatment failure. The identification of new predictive and therapeutic biomarkers may increase drug sensitivity and better control localized and metastatic disease. By the evidence that CXCR4 receptor by binding its ligand CXCL12 activates downstream critical endpoints for tumour malignancy, we first studied human OS progression correlating CXCR4 expression in OS biopsy with patient clinical data. By Real-time PCR and immunoistochemistry we found that high levels of CXCR4 gene and protein expression significantly correlated with OS progression, emphasizing the role of CXCR4/CXCL12 axis in tumour prognosis. This was supported by univariate analyses that showed a higher probability of local and/or systemic relapse in OS patients with a high CXCR4 gene expression and a significant increase of metastasis risk associated with an increasing score of CXCR4 protein staining intensity. Secondarily, to study the role of CXCR4 as a target for new therapeutic strategies, we evaluated the response of OS cells to the fully human CXCR4 antibody, MDX1338. In the study we also included AMD3100, the most studied CXCR4 antagonist. In CXCR4-positive OS cells cultured in CXCL12-rich BM-MCS-CM (bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem conditioned medium), a decrease of cell proliferation up to 30%–40% of control was seen after drug exposure. However, an increase of apoptosis was seen in p53-positive U2OS and 143B after CXCR4 inhibitor incubation, while no changes were seen in treated SAOS-2 cells which also present a different labeling profile. The role of p53 in apoptotic response to CXCR4 inhibitors was confirmed by p53 silencing in U2OS cell line. Our data suggest that the response to anti-CXCR4 agents could be influenced by the genetic background and labeling profile which induces a different cross-talk between tumour cells and environment. The delay in cell cycle progression associated with increased apoptosis could sensitize p53-positive cells to conventional therapy and in vivo preclinical experiments are on going with the aim to suggest new combined target therapies in human OS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100239
JournalJournal of Bone Oncology
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Biomarkers
  • CXCR4 antagonists
  • Metastasis
  • Prognosis
  • Sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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