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Breast Cancer Res. 2002;4(1):30-4. Epub 2001 Nov 30.

Development of bisphosphonates.


Bisphosphonates are synthetic compounds characterized by a P[bond]C[bond]P group, and are thus analogs of inorganic pyrophosphate. They are used in medicine mainly to inhibit bone resorption in diseases like osteoporosis, Paget's disease and tumor bone disease. They have been used for over a century in industry, and only in 1968 was it shown that bisphosphonates have biological effects. These effects consist mainly of an inhibition of bone resorption and, when given in large amounts, an inhibition of ectopic and normal calcification. While the latter effect is the consequence of a physical-chemical inhibition of calcium phosphate crystal formation, the former is due to a cellular effect involving both apoptosis of the osteoclasts and a destruction of the osteoclastic cytoskeleton, inducing a decrease in osteoclast activity. The biochemical basis of these effects for the nitrogen-containing compounds is an inhibition of the mevalonate pathway caused by the inhibition of farnesylpyrophosphate synthase, which leads to a decrease of the formation of isoprenoid lipids such as farnesylpyrophosphate and geranylgeranylpyrophosphate. The other bisphosphonates are incorporated into the phosphate chain of ATP-containing compounds so that they become non-hydrolyzable. The new P[bond]C[bond]P-containing ATP analogs inhibit cell function and may lead to apoptosis and death of osteoclasts.

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