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Multiple myeloma is a haematological malignancy characterized by an expansion of malignant plasma cells within the bone marrow and is frequently associated with bone disease involving the development of osteolytic bone lesions, pathological fractures, osteoporosis and hypercalcaemia. A class of anti-resorptive drugs known as bisphosphonates have been in use to treat osteoclast-mediated bone diseases for the past 3 decades, and are currently proving effective in the treatment of the bone disease associated with multiple myeloma. Recent studies have suggested that bisphosphonate treatment may also result in an improvement in survival in some patients with multiple myeloma. These effects on survival may reflect an indirect effect of the bisphosphonates on tumour growth, via inhibition of osteoclast activity and hence a reduction in the release of tumour growth factors. However, it is also possible that bisphosphonates may have a direct effect on myeloma cells. In support of this we have demonstrated that bisphosphonates can decrease cell proliferation and induce apoptosis in human myeloma cells in vitro, and this review discusses the possibility that bisphosphonates may have not only an anti-resorptive action, but may also have a direct anti-tumour activity.

Original publication




Journal article


Leuk lymphoma

Publication Date





129 - 138


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Apoptosis, Bone Diseases, Cell Count, Diphosphonates, Humans, Multiple Myeloma, Survival, Tumor Cells, Cultured