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Am J Pathol. 2010 Jul;177(1):280-90. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090592. Epub 2010 May 14.

Bisphosphonates cause osteonecrosis of the jaw-like disease in mice.

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  • 1University of Maryland School of Medicine, 800 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw (BONJ) is a morbid bone disease linked to long-term bisphosphonate use. Despite its broad health impact, mechanistic study is lacking. In this study, we have established a mouse model of BONJ-like disease based on the equivalent clinical regimen in myeloma patients, a group associated with high risk of BONJ. We demonstrate that the murine BONJ-like disease recapitulates major clinical and radiographical manifestations of the human disease, including characteristic features of osseous sclerosis, sequestra, avascular, and radiopaque alveolar bone in the jaw that persists beyond a normal course of wound healing following tooth extraction. We find that long-term administration of bisphosphonates results in an increase in the size and number of osteoclasts and the formation of giant osteoclast-like cells within the alveolar bone. We show that the development of necrotic bone and impaired soft tissue healing in our mouse model is dependent on long-term use of high-dose bisphosphonates, immunosuppressive and chemotherapy drugs, as well as mechanical trauma. Most importantly, we demonstrate that bisphosphonate is the major cause of BONJ-like disease in mice, mediated in part by its ability to suppress osseous angiogenesis and bone remodeling. The availability of this novel mouse model of BONJ-like disease will help elucidate the pathophysiology of BONJ and ultimately develop novel approaches for prevention and treatment of human BONJ.

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