The bisphosphonate zoledronic acid decreases tumor growth in bone in mice with defective osteoclasts

Angela C. Hirbe, Anke J. Roelofs, Desiree H. Floyd, Hongju Deng, Stephanie N. Becker, Lisa G. Lanigan, Anthony J. Apicelli, Zhiqiang Xu, Julie L. Prior, Mark C. Eagleton, David Piwnica-Worms, Michael J. Rogers, Katherine Weilbaecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Bisphosphonates (BPs), bone targeted drugs that disrupt osteoclast function, are routinely used to treat complications of bone metastasis. Studies in preclinical models of cancer have shown that BPs reduce skeletal tumor burden and increase survival. Similarly, we observed in the present study that administration of the Nitrogen-containing BP (N-BP), zoledronic acid (ZA) to osteolytic tumor-bearing Tax+ mice beginning at 6 months of age led to resolution of radiographic skeletal lesions. N-BPs inhibit farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) synthase, thereby inhibiting protein prenylation and causing cellular toxicity. We found that ZA decreased Tax+ tumor and B16 melanoma viability and caused the accumulation of unprenylated Rap1a proteins in vitro. However, it is presently unclear whether N-BPs exert anti-tumor effects in bone independent of inhibition of osteoclast (OC) function in vivo. Therefore, we evaluated the impact of treatment with ZA on B16 melanoma bone tumor burden in irradiated mice transplanted with splenic cells from src(-/-) mice, which have non-functioning OCs. OC-defective mice treated with ZA demonstrated a significant 88% decrease in tumor growth in bone compared to vehicle-treated OC-defective mice. These data support an osteoclast-independent role for N-BP therapy in bone metastasis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-916
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Early online date23 Jan 2009
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • animals
  • bone neoplasms
  • cell line, tumor
  • cell survival
  • diphosphonates
  • enzyme activation
  • geranyltranstransferase
  • imidazoles
  • mice
  • mice, inbred C57BL
  • mice, transgenic
  • neoplasm metastasis
  • osteoclasts
  • protein prenylation


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