Bisphosphonates induce the osteogenic gene expression in co-cultured human endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells

Viviana Ribeiro, Mónica Garcia, Raquel Oliveira, Pedro S. Gomes, Bruno Colaço, Maria Helena Fernandes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Bisphosphonates (BPs) are known to affect bone homeostasis and also to have anti-angiogenic properties. Because of the intimate relationship between angiogenesis and osteogenesis, this study analysed the effects of Alendronate (AL) and Zoledronate (ZL) in the expression of endothelial and osteogenic genes on interacting endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells, an issue that was not previously addressed. Alendronate and ZL, 10-12-10-6 M, were evaluated in a direct co-culture system of human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC) and human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (HMSC), over a period of 14 days. Experiments with the respective monocultures were run in parallel. Alendronate and ZL caused an initial dose-dependent stimulation in the cell proliferation in the monocultures and co-cultures, and did not interfere with their cellular organization. In HDMEC monocultures, the expression of the endothelial genes CD31, VE-cadherin and VEGFR2 was down-regulated by AL and ZL. In HMSC monocultures, the BPs inhibited VEGF expression, but up-regulated the expression of the osteogenic genes alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2) and osteocalcin (OC) and, to a greater extent, osteoprotegerin (OPG), a negative regulator of the osteoclastic differentiation, and increased ALP activity. In co-cultured HDMEC/HMSC, AL and ZL decreased the expression of endothelial genes but elicited an earlier and sustained overexpression of ALP, BMP-2, OC and OPG, compared with the monocultured cells; they also induced ALP activity. This study showed for the first time that AL and ZL greatly induced the osteogenic gene expression on interacting endothelial and mesenchymal stem cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Alendronate
  • Co-cultured cells
  • Endothelial gene expression
  • Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC)
  • Human mesenchymal stem cells (HMSC)
  • Osteogenic gene expression
  • Zoledronate


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