Metastatic breast cancer cells on arriving at bone site interact with the bone cells to influence their growth, proliferation, and chemoresistance. There are currently no effective therapeutics available in the clinic for bone metastases. Many existing anti-cancer therapeutics are ineffective at the metastatic bone site due to a lack of accurate models of breast cancer bone metastasis for drug screening. Here, we report the development of an effective in vitro model using osteogenically differentiated human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and human breast cancer cells on 3D nanoclay scaffolds as a testbed for screening drugs. Our results demonstrate that breast cancer cells grown in 3D bone-mimetic scaffolds exhibited altered physiological and biochemical properties, including tumoroids formation, elevated levels of cytokine such as IL-6, and its downstream effector-mediated inhibition of apoptosis and upregulation of multidrug transporters proteins, leading to drug resistance against paclitaxel. Most importantly, Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3), a potential biomarker for chemoresistance in many cancers, was activated in the 3D breast cancer bone metastasis model. Thus, our data suggest that 3D bone-mimetic nanoclay scaffolds-based in vitro tumor model is a promising testbed for screening new therapeutics for breast cancer bone metastasis where bone interface governs drug resistance in breast cancer cells.
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