Bisphosphonates are generally considered to act on bone resorption by binding to bone mineral and subsequently inhibiting the activity of the osteoclasts which ingest them. This has been supported by the fact that bisphosphonates adsorbed on mineralized tissue inhibit the resorbing activity of isolated osteoclasts in vitro. However, the effectiveness of different bisphosphonates determined in this system does not reflect their relative potencies in vivo. Employing the well-described isolated osteoclast resorption pit assay, with ivory as the resorption substrate, we show here that this lack of correlation prevails only when the bisphosphonates are added to the mineral before addition of osteoclasts, but not when the cells are treated for a short time (5 min) before allowing them to adhere onto ivory. By using this approach with five different bisphosphonates, a stringent correlation of relative potencies was obtained with those found, both in the rat and in the human, in vivo. Furthermore, by using an osteoblastic cell line (CRP 10/30) which is a powerful promoter of osteoclastic resorption in vitro, we obtained evidence that the inhibitory effect of bisphosphonates was the result of an action on osteoblasts rather than on osteoclasts. Thus, in experiments in which the osteoblastic cells were pretreated for 5 min with bisphosphonates and then cocultured with osteoclasts, inhibition of osteoclastic resorbing activity was obtained. Moreover, it was found that this treatment resulted in a decrease of the stimulatory effect found in CRP 10/30-conditioned medium. In conclusion the present study shows that part of the osteoclast inhibiting action of the bisphosphonates is mediated through an action on osteoblasts.


M Sahni, H L Guenther, H Fleisch, P Collin, T J Martin


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