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Semin Oncol. 2003 Apr;30(2 Suppl 5):5-12.

The effects of gallium nitrate on bone resorption.

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Mineralized Tissue Laboratory, The Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Gallium nitrate has been shown to be an effective treatment for patients with cancer-related hypercalcemia. Clinical studies have also suggested the drug may have considerably broader use in other diseases associated with accelerated bone loss including multiple myeloma, bone metastases, Paget's disease, and osteoporosis. The actions of gallium nitrate on bone are quite distinct from those of bisphosphonates. Preclinical studies show that gallium preferentially accumulates in trace amounts in metabolically active regions of bone. When present, gallium favorably alters the mineral properties to enhance hydroxyapatite crystallization and reduce mineral solubility. The drug also acts on the cellular components of bone to reduce bone resorption by decreasing acid secretion by osteoclasts. This effect appears to be mediated by inhibition of the ATPase-dependent proton pump of the osteoclast's ruffled membrane. Gallium does not inhibit the development or recruitment of osteoclasts to bone tissue, unlike many bisphosphonates that may induce osteoclast apoptosis. Together, these pharmacologic actions may yield a skeletal system with increased calcium and phosphate content and improved biomechanical strength. Gallium nitrate has potent antiresorptive effects on bone that can be achieved at considerably lower doses than are currently used for cancer-related hypercalcemia. Parenteral and oral formulations of gallium appear to have high activity in bone resorptive disorders, and thus development should be vigorously pursued in these diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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