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PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to determine whether bisphosphonates are internalised by Dictyostelium amoebae and whether cellular uptake is required for their growth-inhibitory effects. Bisphosphonates inhibit growth of amoebae of the slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum, by mechanisms that appear to be similar to those that cause inhibition of osteoclastic bone resorption. METHODS: Cell-free extracts prepared from amoebae that had been incubated with bisphosphonates were analysed by 31P-n.m.r, spectroscopy or ion-exchange f.p.l.c., to identify the presence of bisphosphonates or bisphosphonate metabolites respectively. The growth-inhibitory effect of bisphosphonates towards Dictyostelium amoebae was also examined under conditions in which pinocytosis was inhibited. RESULTS: All of the bisphosphonates studied were internalised by Dictyostelium amoebae, probably by fluid-phase pinocytosis, and could be detected in cell-free extracts. Amoebae that were prevented from internalising bisphosphonates by pinocytosis were markedly resistant to the growth-inhibitory effects of these compounds. In addition, bisphosphonates encapsulated within liposomes were more potent growth inhibitors of Dictyostelium owing to enhanced intracellular delivery of bisphosphonates. CONCLUSIONS: All bisphosphonates inhibit Dictyostelium growth by intracellular mechanisms following internalisation of bisphosphonates by fluid-phase pinocytosis. It is therefore likely that bisphosphonates also affect osteoclasts by interacting with intracellular, rather than extracellular, processes.

Original publication




Journal article


Pharm res

Publication Date





625 - 630


Adenine Nucleotides, Animals, Antifungal Agents, Chromatography, Ion Exchange, Dictyostelium, Diphosphonates, Drug Carriers, Drug Compounding, Liposomes, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy