Low calcium diet increases 4T1 mammary tumor carcinoma cell burden and bone pathology in mice

Wendan Wang, Jody L. Gordon, Kenneth A. Philbrick, Xujuan Yang, Adam J. Branscum, Christiane V. Löhr, Wanda M. Haschek, Russell T. Turner, Urszula T. Iwaniec, William G. Helferich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breast cancer metastasizes to bone in the majority of patients with advanced disease. We investigated the effects of inadequate dietary calcium (Ca) on bone turnover, tumor growth, and bone response to tumor in tibia inoculated with 4T1 mammary carcinoma cells. Nine-month-old female Balb/c mice were placed on an adequate Ca (5 g/kg diet, n = 30) or low Ca (80 mg/kg diet, n = 31) diet for 14 days, then injected intratibially with 1,000 4T1 cells (transfected with luciferase for bioluminescence imaging), and sacrificed at 5, 10, or 21 days post-inoculation (n = 7–10 mice/group). Control mice (n = 6/group) were injected with carrier and sacrificed at 10 days post-inoculation. Tibiae with muscle intact were excised and evaluated by microcomputed tomography and histology. In vivo bioluminescent imaging revealed that 4T1 cells metastasized to lung. Therefore, lungs were removed for quantification of tumor. Mice fed low Ca exhibited higher bone turnover and higher tibial lesion scores than mice fed adequate Ca. Lesion severity, manifested as cortical osteolysis and periosteal woven bone formation, and tumor cell infiltration to muscle, increased with time, irrespective of diet. However, for most skeletal endpoints the rates of increase were greater in mice consuming low Ca compared to mice consuming adequate Ca. Infiltration of tumor cells into adjacent muscle, but not metastasis to lung, was also greater in mice consuming low Ca diet. The findings suggest that high bone turnover due to Ca insufficiency results in greater local mammary tumor cell growth, cortical osteolysis, woven bone formation, and invasion to muscle in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0180886
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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