Zoledronic acid inhibits aromatase activity and phosphorylation: potential mechanism for additive zoledronic acid and letrozole drug interaction

Amanda J Schech, Brandon E Nemieboka, Angela H Brodie
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2012, 132 (3-5): 195-202
Zoledronic acid (ZA), a bisphosphonate originally indicated for use in osteoporosis, has been reported to exert a direct effect on breast cancer cells, although the mechanism of this effect is currently unknown. Data from the ABCSG-12 and ZO-FAST clinical trials suggest that treatment with the combination of ZA and aromatase inhibitors (AI) result in increased disease free survival in breast cancer patients over AI alone. To determine whether the mechanism of this combination involved inhibition of aromatase, AC-1 cells (MCF-7 human breast cancer cells transfected with an aromatase construct) were treated simultaneously with combinations of ZA and AI letrozole. This combination significantly increased inhibition of aromatase activity of AC-1 cells when compared to letrozole alone. Treatment of 1 nM letrozole in combination with 1 μM or 10 μM ZA resulted in an additive drug interaction on inhibition of cell viability, as measured by MTT assay. Treatment with ZA was found to inhibit phosphorylation of aromatase on serine residues. Zoledronic acid was also shown to be more effective in inhibiting cell viability in aromatase transfected AC-1 cells when compared to inhibition of cell viability observed in non-transfected MCF-7. Estradiol was able to partially rescue the effect of 1 μM and 10 μM ZA on cell viability following treatment for 72 h, as shown by a shift to the right in the estradiol dose-response curve. In conclusion, these results indicate that the combination of ZA and letrozole results in an additive inhibition of cell viability. Furthermore, ZA alone can inhibit aromatase activity through inhibition of serine phosphorylation events important for aromatase enzymatic activity and contributes to inhibition of cell viability.

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