A Rare Colon Cancer with Ossification: Pathogenetic Analysis of Bone Formation

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Heterotopic ossification occurring in colon cancer is an exceedingly rare event. The pathogenetic mechanism of tumor-related heterotopic bone formation remains unclear. Herein, we describe a rare case of colon cancer with ossification in a 76-year-old woman. We also highlight the etiology of heterotopic ossification by immunohistochemical evaluation of novel markers such as bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), osteocalcin, osteopontin, and β-catenin. BMP9 is one of the most potent osteogenetic BMPs. However, no previous research has been performed concerning BMP9 in heterotopic ossification arising in colon cancer. Subsequently, we suggest a hypothesis of tumor-associated heterotopic bone formation through this case. When osteoblastic indicators including BMP9, osteocalcin, and osteopontin are upregulated in tumor cells, osteoblast-like transformation of such tumor cells occurs. These tumor cells augment the release of interactive osteogenetic factors (BMP9, osteocalcin, and osteopontin) and stimulate uncommitted mesenchymal stromal cells into specific osteoblastic differentiation, contributing to heterotopic bone formation. This transformation of tumor cells is considered a type of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) because of overexpression of BMP9 and β-catenin. Patients should be followed closely because EMT has a tendency toward local recurrence. Our findings provide insight into the pathogenetic etiology of heterotopic ossification in colon cancer.

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