Alendronate Inhibits PTH (1–34)-induced Bone Morphogenetic Protein Expression in MC3T3-E1 Preosteoblastic Cells


The bisphosphonate class of antiresorptive drugs and active forms of parathyroid hormone (PTH (1–34)) have been used clinically to enhance bone mass and density in patients with osteoporosis. Abundant evidence suggests that the mechanism by which PTH (1–34) increases bone density is stimulation of osteoblast differentiation. Although bisphosphonates have been classically thought to increase bone density by inhibiting osteoclasts, there is increasing evidence to suggest that bisphosphonates have direct stimulatory effects on osteoblast differentiation. Interestingly, in patients with osteoporosis, combination therapy with bisphosphonates and PTH (1–34) is not synergistic in increasing bone density; bisphosphonates appear to blunt the effect of PTH (1–34). To begin to understand the mechanism governing the effects of these agents on osteoblasts and a possible explanation for their apparent antagonism, we examined the expression of several bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) in MC3T3-E1 preosteoblastic cells either untreated, or treated with alendronate, parathyroid hormone, or a combination of the two agents. We find by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) that while alendronate fails to induce the expression of any of the BMPs tested, several BMPs are induced by PTH (1–34). The induction of the PTH (1–34)-inducible BMPs is blocked with simultaneous alendronate treatment. These data suggest that alendronate interferes with PTH (1–34)-induced BMP gene transcription and provides a possible basis for the antagonism observed between the two agents in increasing bone density.

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This study was funded in part by grants from Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN, USA).

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Correspondence to Joseph M. Lane MD.

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Issack, P.S., Lauerman, M.H., Helfet, D.L. et al. Alendronate Inhibits PTH (1–34)-induced Bone Morphogenetic Protein Expression in MC3T3-E1 Preosteoblastic Cells. HSS Jrnl 3, 169–172 (2007).

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Key words

  • osteoblasts
  • bisphosphonates
  • parathyroid hormone
  • BMPs