The aim of this study was to explore whether desensitization to the occurrence of the acute-phase response (APR) in patients previously treated with amino-bisphosphonates (N-BPs) is due to a long-lasting reduction in the number of circulating γδ T cells. Circulating lymphocyte subpopulation counts were obtained from 63 patients with postmenopausal or senile osteoporosis at baseline and after 2 days and 12 months of the first intravenous (IV) 5 mg zoledronic acid (ZOL) infusion. At baseline both the proportion and absolute number of circulating γδ T cells were significantly higher in patients who had never used N-BPs vs. previous users, either oral or IV. A typical APR was observed in none of the patients given IV ZOL a year earlier, in 6 (22 %) of the patients previously treated with oral N-BPs, and in 13 (57 %) of the patients naive to any N-BP treatment. In patients naive to N-BPs, a significant reduction in both total lymphocytes and their subsets was observed 2 days after ZOL infusion; all these changes returned to baseline values 1 year later with the exception of γδ T cells, which remained significantly lower in terms of both proportion and absolute number. These results indicate for the first time that both IV and oral N-BP treatments are associated with a long-lasting decrease in circulating γδ T cells, and this may explain the lower incidence of APR in patients previously exposed to N-BPs. Other clinical implications of this sustained effect of N-BPs on immune-regulatory cells might be important.
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