Nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates can inhibit angiogenesis in vivo without the involvement of farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase

Bone. 2011 Feb;48(2):259-66. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2010.09.035. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates (N-BPs) are widely used to block bone destruction associated with bone metastasis because they are effective inhibitors of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. More specifically, once internalized by osteoclasts, N-BPs block the activity of farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase (FPPS), a key enzyme in the mevalonate pathway. In addition to their antiresorptive activity, preclinical evidence shows that N-BPs have antiangiogenic properties. However, the exact reasons for which N-BPs inhibit angiogenesis remain largely unknown. Using different angiogenesis models, we examined here the effects of zoledronate, risedronate and three structural analogs of risedronate (NE-58025, NE-58051 and NE-10790) with lower potencies to inhibit FPPS activity. Risedronate and zoledronate were much more potent than NE-compounds at inhibiting both endothelial cell proliferation in vitro and vessel sprouting in the chicken egg chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. In addition, only risedronate and zoledronate inhibited the revascularization of the prostate gland in testosterone-stimulated castrated rats. Moreover, as opposed to NE-compounds, risedronate and zoledronate induced intracellular accumulation of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) in endothelial cells by blocking the activity of the IPP-consuming enzyme FPPS. Thus, these results indicated that N-BPs inhibited angiogenesis in a FPPS-dependent manner. However, drug concentrations used to inhibit angiogenesis, both in vitro and in the CAM and prostate gland assays, were high. In contrast, a low concentration of risedronate (1 μM) was sufficient to inhibit blood vessel formation in the ex vivo rat aortic ring assay. Moreover, NE-58025 (which had a 7-fold lower potency than risedronate to inhibit FPPS activity) was as effective as risedronate to reduce angiogenesis in the rat aortic ring assay. In conclusion, our results suggest that low concentrations of N-BPs inhibit angiogenesis in a FPPS-independent manner, whereas higher drug concentrations were required to inhibit FPPS activity in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chorioallantoic Membrane
  • Diphosphonates / chemistry
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology*
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Etidronic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Etidronic Acid / chemistry
  • Etidronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Etidronic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Geranyltranstransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / chemistry
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology
  • Imidazoles / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Risedronic Acid
  • Zoledronic Acid


  • Diphosphonates
  • Imidazoles
  • Zoledronic Acid
  • Geranyltranstransferase
  • Risedronic Acid
  • Etidronic Acid