Aim Bisphosphonates have been shown to induce ocular inflammatory diseases such as uveitis and scleritis, while being protective against angiogenic diseases like neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Therefore, we studied the effects of bisphosphonates on primary culture of human fetal retinal pigment epithelium (hRPE), a cell type known to secrete both inflammatory and angiogenic factors. Alendronate and etidronate were selected for this experiment as they are members of the two structurally different classes of bisphosphonates.
Methods Primary cultures of hRPE were serum-starved for 24 h and then treated for 24 h with alendronate (0.0001, 0.1, 100 µM) or etidronate (0.01, 1 µM). Cell viability was measured using the MTT assay. Investigation of secreted cytokines induced by bisphosphonates was performed using a human cytokine 29-Plex Panel (Bio-Plex) array and the results were analysed with an analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Results Etidronate, at the lower concentration, significantly increased the expression of interleukin (IL)-6 (p=0.03) and IL-8 (p=0.04). At the higher concentration, etidronate significantly decreased the expression of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (p=0.02) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) (p=0.02). Alendronate, at the highest concentration, significantly increased the expression of IL-8 (p=0.02) and decreased the expression of eotaxin (p=0.02). Alendronate also significantly decreased the expression of bFGF at all concentrations (p<0.05) and demonstrated a trend towards decreasing vascular endothelial growth factor expression at low concentration.
Conclusions Alendronate and etidronate display dose dependent effects in hRPE cells. Alendronate and etidronate administration resulted in concentration dependent elevations in inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, alendronate and etidronate administration resulted in reduced expression of a number of angiogenic factors. These findings may explain the increased incidence of ocular inflammation as well as the therapeutic effect on neovascular AMD which have been described with bisphosphonates.