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Bone. 2003 Aug;33(2):216-28.

Induction of cell death of human osteogenic sarcoma cells by zoledronic acid resembles anoikis.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, University of Adelaide, Bice Building Level 4, The Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, South Australia, Australia.


The aim of this study was to investigate the cytotoxic activity of the third-generation nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate zoledronic acid (ZOL) as a single agent, and in combination with clinically relevant anticancer drugs, in a panel of human osteogenic sarcoma cell lines (HOS, BTK-143, MG-63, SJSA-1, G-292, and SAOS2). We found that ZOL, when used alone, reduced cell number in a dose- and time-dependent manner, due either to cell cycle arrest in S-phase or to the induction of apoptosis. In the sensitive HOS, BTK-143, and G-292 cell lines, genomic DNA fragmentation and morphological changes characteristic of apoptosis were evident, and cells became nonadherent. Induction of apoptosis in osteosarcoma cells by ZOL was associated with caspase activation. However, coaddition of the broad-spectrum caspase inhibitors, z-VAD-fmk, Boc-D-fmk, or the caspase-3-specific inhibitor z-DEVD fmk, failed to protect these cells from ZOL-induced apoptosis. Our data support a ZOL-specific induction of cell apoptosis that involves cell detachment (anoikis), and in which caspase activation occurs secondarily to, and is redundant as a mediator of cell death. The addition of geranylgeraniol, an intermediate of the mevalonate pathway, suppressed the ZOL-induced apoptosis, suggesting that the cytotoxic effects of ZOL in osteosarcoma cells were mediated by the mevalonate pathway. While treatment of osteosarcoma cells with the chemotherapeutic agents doxorubicin or etoposide decreased cell viability, combination of these agents with ZOL did not significantly augment apoptosis in any of the cell lines tested. These observations suggest that ZOL has direct effects on the proliferation and survival of osteosarcoma cells in vitro, which has implications for future therapy of osteosarcoma.

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