Nicholas Szerlip, M.D. Grant Support

The impact of the dura mater on prostate spine metastases

Szerlip N
DOD W81XWH-18-1-0487
9/1/2018 – 8/31/2022

Thirty per cent of cancer patients develop spine metastases with a substantial number leading to spinal cord compression and neurological deficits. Many demonstrate a propensity toward metastasis to the posterior third of the vertebral body. The dura, the outer layer of the meninges, lies in intimate contact with the posterior border of the vertebral body and has been shown to influence adjacent bone. The effects of the dura on bone marrow and cancer cells have not been examined. Understanding the biology of spinal metastasis will provide insights into mechanisms of cancer growth and allow for new treatment strategies. Objective: To examine the extent to which dura influences bone marrow/tumor cell metastatic characteristics. Methods: Dura conditioned media (DCM) from primary dura was examined for the ability to stimulate tumor cell proliferation/invasion and to alter bone marrow cell populations. RNA sequencing of dural fibroblasts was performed to examine expression of cytokines and growth factors. Results: DCM induced a significant increase in invasion and proliferation of multiple tumor cell lines, and of patient-derived primary spinal metastatic cells. DCM also increased the proliferation of bone marrow myeloid cells, inducing expression of immunosuppressive markers. RNA sequencing of dural fibroblasts demonstrated abundant expression of cytokines and growth factors involved in cancer/immune pathways. Conclusion: Factors released by primary dural cells induce proliferation of tumor cells and alter bone marrow to create a fertile environment for tumor growth. The dura therefore may play an important role in the increased incidence of metastases to adjacent bone.

Differential Immune Landscape in the Pre-Metastatic Niche may Promote Metastatic Growth in Axial Skeleton

Strong MJ, Szerlip NJ
10/1/2020 – 9/30/2021 
Alpha Omega Alpha Postgraduate Fellowship

The role of differential bone marrow immune landscape in permissive tumor growth in the spine

Strong MJ, Szerlip NJ, Gallagher K, Castro M, Ahmed A, Levi B
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2023 
NIH/NCI/NRSA F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32CA254147)

Principal Investigator