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Sclerostin expression in skeletal sarcomas


Sclerostin (SOST) is an extracellular Wnt signaling antagonist which negatively regulates bone mass. Despite this, the expression and function of SOST in skeletal tumors remain poorly described. Here, we first describe the immunohistochemical staining pattern of SOST across benign and malignant skeletal tumors with bone or cartilage matrix (n=68 primary tumors). Next, relative SOST expression was compared to markers of Wnt signaling activity and osteogenic differentiation across human osteosarcoma (OS) cell lines (n=7 cell lines examined). Results showed immunohistochemical detection of SOST in most bone-forming tumors (90.2%; 46/51) and all cartilage-forming tumors (100%; 17/17). Among OSs, variable intensity and distribution of SOST expression were observed, which highly correlated with the presence and degree of neoplastic bone. Patchy SOST expression was observed in cartilage-forming tumors, which did not distinguish between benign and malignant tumors or correlate with regional morphologic characteristics. Finally, SOST expression varied widely between OS cell lines, with more than 97-fold variation. Among OS cell lines, SOST expression positively correlated with the marker of osteogenic differentiation alkaline phosphatase and did not correlate well with markers of Wnt/β-catenin signaling activity. In summary, SOST is frequently expressed in skeletal bone- and cartilage-forming tumors. The strong spatial correlation with bone formation and the in vitro expression patterns are in line with the known functions of SOST in nonneoplastic bone, as a feedback inhibitor on osteogenic differentiation. With anti-SOST as a potential therapy for osteoporosis in the near future, its basic biologic and phenotypic consequences in skeletal tumors should not be overlooked.

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