Equilibrium-dependent bisphosphonate interaction with crystalline bone mineral explains anti-resorptive pharmacokinetics and prevalence of osteonecrosis of the jaw in rats

Bone. 2013 Mar;53(1):59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2012.11.030. Epub 2012 Dec 4.


Bisphosphonates (BPs) are chemically stable analogs of pyrophosphate exhibiting strong affinity to bone and have been used for the treatment of diseases characterized by excessive bone resorption. Contrary to the widely accepted BP accumulation model in bone after repeated applications, we report here that an equilibrium-dependent BP-crystalline bone mineral interaction may better explain BP bio-distribution and anti-catabolic bone remodeling and may be relevant to the appearance of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) in rats. Fluorescent-labeled BP analogs were synthesized and used to evaluate the mode of bone adsorption. After fluorescent-labeled BP adsorbed on crystalline calcium phosphates in vitro, subsequent BP application replaced the previously absorbed BP depending on the dose and the relative binding affinity to hydroxyapatite. The in vivo intravenous zoledronate (ZOL) injection of repeated fractional doses resulted in lower serum CTX and TRAP5b measurements than a single bolus injection in spite of the equivalent cumulative dose. Repeated injections resulted in the distribution of fluorescent-labeled BP on the large area of bone surfaces; whereas the single bolus injection gave rise to the intense BP bio-distribution at selected bone sites such as the alveolar process of jawbones. Necrotic maxillary alveolar bone was predominantly observed in vitamin D deficiency rats treated with bolus ZOL injection. The palatal necrotic bone was characteristically sequestrated by the fistulation of hyperplastic oral epithelium, suggesting the initial development of ONJ-like lesions in rats. Our results suggest that equilibrium-dependent BP-bone interaction may, in part, determine the effectiveness and influence side effects of long-term and repeated applications of BPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bisphosphonate-Associated Osteonecrosis of the Jaw / physiopathology*
  • Diphosphonates / chemistry
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacokinetics
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Minerals / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Diphosphonates
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Minerals