Association between BMP-2 and carcinogenicity

Branko Skovrlj, Steven M. Koehler, Paul A. Anderson, Sheeraz A. Qureshi, Andrew C. Hecht, James C. Iatridis, Samuel K. Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Study Design. Literature review. Objective. To evaluate the association between recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP-2) and malignancy. Summary of Background Data. The use of rhBMP-2 in spine surgery has been the topic of much debate as studies assessing the association between rhBMP-2 and malignancy have come to conflicting conclusions. Methods. A systematic review of the literature was performed using the PubMed-National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health databases. Only non-clinical studies directly addressing BMP-2 and cancer were included. Articles were categorized by study type (animal, in vitro cell line/human/ animal), primary malignancy, cancer attributes, and whether BMP-2 was pro-malignancy or not. Results. A total of 4,131 articles were reviewed. Of those, 515 articles made reference to both BMP-2 and cancer, 99 of which were found to directly examine the role of BMP-2 in cancer. Seventy-five studies were in vitro and 24 were animal studies. Forty-three studies concluded that BMP-2 enhanced cancer function, whereas 18 studies found that BMP-2 suppressed malignancy. Thirty-six studies did not examine whether BMP-2 enhanced or suppressed cancer function. Fifteen studies demonstrated BMP-2 dose dependence (9 enhancement, 6 suppression) and one study demonstrated no dose dependence. Nine studies demonstrated BMP-2 time dependence (6 enhancement, 3 suppression). However, no study demonstrated that BMP-2 caused cancer de novo. Conclusion. Currently, conflicting data exist with regard to the effect of exogenous BMP-2 on cancer. The majority of studies addressed the role of BMP-2 in prostate (17%), breast (17%), and lung (15%) cancers. Most were in vitro studies (75%) and examined cancer invasiveness and metastatic potential (37%). Of 99 studies, there was no demonstration of BMP-2 causing cancer de novo. However, 43% of studies suggested that BMP-2 enhances tumor function, motivating more definitive research on the topic that also includes clinically meaningful dose- and time-dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1862-1871
Number of pages10
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2015


  • Bone morphogenetic protein
  • Carcinogenicity
  • Fusion
  • InFuse®
  • Malignancy
  • RhBMP-2
  • Spine surgery


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