Comparison of γδ T cell responses and farnesyl diphosphate synthase inhibition in tumor cells pretreated with zoledronic acid

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Exposing human tumor cells to nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates, such as zoledronic acid (Zol), greatly increases their susceptibility to killing by γδ T cells. Based on this finding and other studies, cancer immunotherapy using γδ T cells and nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates has been studied in pilot clinical trials and has shown benefits. Although Zol treatment can render a wide variety of human tumor cells susceptible to γδ T cell killing, there has not been a systematic investigation to determine which types of tumor cells are the most susceptible to γδ T cell-mediated cytotoxicity. In this study, we determined the Zol concentrations required to stimulate half maximal tumor necrosis factor-α production by γδ T cells cultured with various tumor cell lines pretreated with Zol and compared these concentrations with those required for half maximal inhibition of farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FPPS) in the same tumor cell lines. The inhibition of tumor cell growth by Zol was also assessed. We found that FPPS inhibition strongly correlated with γδ T cell activation, confirming that the mechanism underlying γδ T cell activation by Zol is isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) accumulation due to FPPS blockade. In addition, we showed that γδ T-cell receptor-mediated signaling correlated with γδ T cell tumor necrosis factor-α production and cytotoxicity. Some lymphoma, myeloid leukemia, and mammary carcinoma cell lines were relatively resistant to Zol treatment, suggesting that assessing tumor sensitivity to Zol may help select those patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy with γδ T cells.


  • Cancer Science

    Cancer Science 104(5), 536-542, 2013-05



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