The bisphosphonate class of anti-resorptive 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. While 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 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.
This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 3, Number 2.
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About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.