In vitro and in vivo effects of zoledronic acid on senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotype markers

Parinya Samakkarnthai, Dominik Saul, Lei Zhang, Zaira Aversa, Madison L. Doolittle, Jad G. Sfeir, Japneet Kaur, Elizabeth J. Atkinson, James R. Edwards, Graham G. Russell, Robert J. Pignolo, James L. Kirkland, Tamar Tchkonia, Laura J. Niedernhofer, David G. Monroe, Nathan K. Lebrasseur, Joshua N. Farr, Paul D. Robbins, Sundeep Khosla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In addition to reducing fracture risk, zoledronic acid has been found in some studies to decrease mortality in humans and extend lifespan and healthspan in animals. Because senescent cells accumulate with aging and contribute to multiple co-morbidities, the non-skeletal actions of zoledronic acid could be due to senolytic (killing of senescent cells) or senomorphic (inhibition of the secretion of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype [SASP]) actions. To test this, we first performed in vitro senescence assays using human lung fibroblasts and DNA repair-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts, which demonstrated that zoledronic acid killed senescent cells with minimal effects on non-senescent cells. Next, in aged mice treated with zoledronic acid or vehicle for 8 weeks, zoledronic acid significantly reduced circulating SASP factors, including CCL7, IL-1β, TNFRSF1A, and TGFβ1 and improved grip strength. Analysis of publicly available RNAseq data from CD115+ (CSF1R/c-fms+) pre-osteoclastic cells isolated from mice treated with zoledronic acid demonstrated a significant downregulation of senescence/SASP genes (SenMayo). To establish that these cells are potential senolytic/senomorphic targets of zoledronic acid, we used single cell proteomic analysis (cytometry by time of flight [CyTOF]) and demonstrated that zoledronic acid significantly reduced the number of pre-osteoclastic (CD115+/CD3e-/Ly6G-/CD45R-) cells and decreased protein levels of p16, p21, and SASP markers in these cells without affecting other immune cell populations. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that zoledronic acid has senolytic effects in vitro and modulates senescence/SASP biomarkers in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3331-3355
Number of pages25
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Samakkarnthai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited


  • aging
  • bisphosphonates
  • bone
  • senescence
  • senolytics


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