Inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins play a central role in many types of cancer, and IAP antagonists are in development as anticancer agents. IAP antagonists cause apoptosis in many cells, but they also activate alternative NF-κB signaling through NF-κB-inducing kinase (NIK), which regulates osteoclasts. In bone metastasis, a positive feedback loop between tumors and osteoclasts promotes tumor growth and osteolysis. We therefore tested the effect of IAP antagonists on the bone microenvironment for metastasis. In both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tumors, growth in bone was favored, as compared with other sites during IAP antagonist treatment. These drugs also caused osteoporosis and increased osteoclastogenesis, mediated by NIK, and enhanced tumor-associated oste-olysis. Cotreatment with zoledronic acid, a potent osteoclast inhibitor, reduced IAP antagonist-enhanced tumor growth in bone and osteolysis. Thus, IAP antagonist-based cancer treatment may be compromised by osteoporosis and enhanced skeletal metastasis, which may be prevented by antiresorptive agents. SIGNIFICANCE: Although IAP antagonists are a class of anticancer agents with proven efficacy in mul-tiple cancers, we show that these agents can paradoxically increase tumor growth and metastasis in the bone by stabilizing NIK and activating the alternative NF-κB pathway in osteoclasts. Future clinical trials of IAP antagonist-based therapy may require detailed examination of this potential for enhanced bone metastasis and osteoporosis, as well as possible combination with antiresorptive agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013


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