Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been widely prescribed for orthopaedic patients to relieve pain and chronic inflammation. However, it has been demonstrated that NSAIDs suppress bone repair and remodeling in vivo. We have reported that ketorolac inhibits bone repair in vivo and its critical effective timing is at the early stage of endochondral ossification. Our previous results showed that ketorolac and indomethacin inhibit osteoblast proliferation in vitro, suggesting that this effect may be one of the mechanisms contributing to the suppressive effect of NSAIDs on bone remodeling. Cell proliferation and death of osteoblasts should be well regulated through some relative apoptotic and mitotic factors during normal bone remodeling process. Accordingly, we proposed that the induction of osteoblastic cell death of NSAIDs might be one of the mechanisms involving their suppressive effect on bone remodeling in vivo. In this study, we investigated whether NSAIDs arrest osteoblastic cell cycle and/or induce cell death. Whether the mechanism was mediated through prostaglandin (PG) pathway. We tested the effects of ketorolac, indomethacin, diclofenac, piroxicam on cell cycle kinetics, cytotoxicity, and cell death pattern in osteoblast-enriched cultures derived from fetal rat calvaria. Our results showed that ketorolac and indomethacin arrested cell cycle at G0/G1 phase. All the 4 NSAIDs had cytotoxic effects and these effects were concentration dependent. The sequence of the cytotoxic effects of these four NSAIDs at 10-4 M were indomethacin > diclofenac > ketorolac > piroxicam. Both PGE1 and PGE2 (10-10-10-8 M) also significantly elevated the LDH leakage of osteoblasts, while PGF2α had no significant effect. These results revealed that the cytotoxic effects of NSAIDs on osteoblasts might not be through inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. They may be through PG-independent pathways. The results from flow cytometry followed by AnnexinV-FITC and propidium iodide double staining showed that 24 hours treatment of all the 4 NSAIDs (10-6 and 10-4 M) significantly induced both apoptosis (p <0.01) and necrosis (p <0.01, or p <0.05) in osteoblast cultures. These effects of NSAIDs on cell cycle arrest and cell death induction in osteoblasts may be one of the important mechanisms contributing to their suppressive effect on bone repair and bone remodeling in vivo.
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