Distribution of trace levels of therapeutic gallium in bone as pped by synchrotron x-ray microscopy
Bone and Bones
Gallium nitrate, a drug that inhibits calcium release from bone, has been proven a safe and effective treatment for the accelerated bone resorption associated with cancer. Though bone is a target organ for gallium, the kinetics, sites, and effects of gallium accumulation in bone are not known. We have used synchrotron x-ray microscopy to map the distribution of trace levels of gallium in bone. After short-term in vivo administration of gallium nitrate to rats, trace (nanogram) amounts of gallium preferentially localized to the metabolically active regions in the metaphysis as well as the endosteal and periosteal surfaces of diaphyseal bone, regions where new bone formation and modeling were occurring. The amounts measured were well below the levels known to be cytotoxic. Iron and zinc, trace elements normally found in bone, were decreased in amount after in vivo administration of gallium. These studies represent a first step toward understanding the mechanism(s) of action of gallium in bone by suggesting the possible cellular, structural, and elemental "targets" of gallium.