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International Journal of Breast Cancer
Volume 2012, Article ID 298623, 9 pages
Review Article

The Hedgehog Pathway Conditions the Bone Microenvironment for Osteolytic Metastasis of Breast Cancer

Department of Oncologic Sciences, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, Mobile, AL 36608, USA

Received 8 July 2011; Revised 6 September 2011; Accepted 8 September 2011

Academic Editor: Douglas R. Hurst

Copyright © 2012 Shamik Das et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The microenvironment at the site of tumor metastasis plays a key role in determining the fate of the metastasizing tumor cells. This ultimately has a direct impact on the progression of cancer. Bone is the preferred site of metastasis of breast cancer. Painful, debilitating osteolytic lesions are formed as a result of crosstalk between breast cancer cells and cells in the bone, predominantly the osteoblasts and osteoclasts. In this paper, we have discussed the temporal and spatial role of hedgehog (Hh) signaling in influencing the fate of metastatic breast cancer cells in bone. By virtue of its secreted ligands, the Hh pathway is capable of homotypic and heterotypic signaling and consequently altering the microenvironment in the bone. We also have put into perspective the therapeutic implications of using Hh inhibitors to prevent and/or treat bone metastases of breast cancer.