Nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates inhibit isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase/farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase activity with relative potencies corresponding to their antiresorptive potencies in vitro and in vivo

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Feb 16;255(2):491-4. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1999.0224.


Bisphosphonates, synthetic compounds which suppress bone resorption, are used in the treatment of skeletal disorders. Their mode of action and intracellular targets have not yet been identified. Recent evidence suggested that enzymes of the mevalonate pathway are the potential targets. In this study, we examined the effect of four potent nitrogen (N)-containing bisphosphonates, clodronate and NH2-olpadronate, an inactive analogue of olpadronate, on isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase/farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase, and protein geranylgeranyl transferase I activity. We found that all N-containing bisphosphonates inhibited isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase/farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase activity dose dependently with relative potencies corresponding to their antiresorptive potencies in vitro and in vivo, whereas clodronate and NH2-olpadronate had no effect. Furthermore, none of the bisphosphonates tested affected geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase or geranylgeranyl transferase I activity. Our study reveals for the first time the intracellular target of N-containing bisphosphonates and supports the view that all bisphosphonates do not share the same molecular mechanism of action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Resorption / enzymology*
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Carbon-Carbon Double Bond Isomerases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Carbon-Carbon Double Bond Isomerases / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Clodronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Dimethylallyltranstransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Dimethylallyltranstransferase / metabolism
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Ibandronic Acid
  • Mice
  • Multienzyme Complexes / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Nitrogen
  • Pamidronate


  • Diphosphonates
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Hemiterpenes
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Clodronic Acid
  • olpadronic acid
  • Dimethylallyltranstransferase
  • Carbon-Carbon Double Bond Isomerases
  • isopentenyldiphosphate delta-isomerase
  • Nitrogen
  • Pamidronate
  • Ibandronic Acid