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In vitro effects of alendronate on fibroblasts of the human rotator cuff tendon

Sung CM1Kim RJ2Hah YS3Gwark JY4Park HB5.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Jan 11;21(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s12891-019-3014-1.





Bone mineral density of the humeral head is an independent determining factor for postoperative rotator cuff tendon healing. Bisphosphonates, which are commonly used to treat osteoporosis, have raised concerns regarding their relationships to osteonecrosis of the jaw and to atypical fracture of the femur. In view of the prevalence of rotator cuff tear in osteoporotic elderly people, it is important to determine whether bisphosphonates affect rotator cuff tendon healing. However, no studies have investigated bisphosphonates’ cytotoxicity to human rotator cuff tendon fibroblasts (HRFs) or bisphosphonates’ effects on rotator cuff tendon healing. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the cytotoxicity of alendronate (Ald), a bisphosphonate, and its effects on HRF wound healing.


HRFs were obtained from human supraspinatus tendons, using primary cell cultures. The experimental groups were control, 0.1 μM Ald, 1 μM Ald, 10 μM Ald, and 100 μM Ald. Alendronate exposure was for 48 h, except during a cell viability analysis with durations from 1 day to 6 days. The experimental groups were evaluated for cell viability, cell cycle and cell proliferation, type of cell death, caspase activity, and wound-healing ability.


The following findings regarding the 100 μM Ald group contrasted with those for all the other experimental groups: a significantly lower rate of live cells (p < 0.01), a higher rate of subG1 population, a lower rate of Ki-67 positive cells, higher rates of apoptosis and necrosis, a higher number of cells with DNA fragmentation, higher caspase-3/7 activity (p < 0.001), and a higher number of caspase-3 positive staining cells. In scratch-wound healing analyses of all the experimental groups, all the wounds healed within 48 h, except in the 100 μM Ald group (p < 0.001).


Low concentrations of alendronate appear to have little effect on HRF viability, proliferation, migration, and wound healing. However, high concentrations are significantly cytotoxic, impairing cellular proliferation, cellular migration, and wound healing in vitro.