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Bone. 1998 Mar;22(3):233-9.

Effect of alendronate on cultured normal human osteoblasts.

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  • 1Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica, Barcelona, Spain.


Alendronate is an aminobisphosphonate with a potent anti-reabsorptive action that does not appear to interfere with bone mineralization, and is even able to increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic postmenopausal women through a still not fully understood mechanism. This study was conducted to assess the direct effect of alendronate on diverse aspects of normal human osteoblast physiology. For that purpose, the in vitro effect of a wide range of concentrations [from 10(-1) to 10(-12) mol/L] of alendronate on cell viability, proliferation, collagen synthesis, and the mineral-depositing capacity of normal human osteoblasts was tested. Alendronate effects were examined at 48 and 96 h of culture in the presence or absence of fetal calf serum. In vitro alendronate affected osteoblast viability at concentrations equal to or higher than 10(-4) mol/L. At concentrations equal to or higher than 10(-3) mol/L, no viable cells were observed in cultures. In vitro alendronate at concentrations between 10(-5) and 10(-12) mol/L did not have any effect on the proliferative capacity of normal human osteoblasts determined by two different techniques: (1) tritiated thymidine incorporation to DNA and (2) cell counting. Collagen synthesis by normal human osteoblasts showed a tendency to decrease following incubation with alendronate supplemented with fetal calf serum. This decrease was only statistically significant after 96 h of culture; however, a dose-response effect could not be documented. Finally, no effect of alendronate was observed on calcium deposition in vitro by normal human osteoblasts at concentrations equal to or lower than 10(-5) mol/L. In conclusion, the present study shows that alendronate in vitro does not affect viability, proliferation, and mineral deposit capacity of normal human osteoblasts at the concentration at which it inhibits by 50% the resorptive capacity of osteoclasts that for this drug has been reported as 2 x 10(-9) mol/L.

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