Immunomodulatory drugs thalidomide and lenalidomide affect osteoblast differentiation of human bone marrow stromal cells in vitro

Arnold Bolomsky, Martin Schreder, Tobias Meißner, Dirk Hose, Heinz Ludwig, Sabine Pfeifer, Niklas Zojer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

24 Citations (Scopus)


Osteoblastic activity is severely impaired in active myeloma, contributing to the development of myeloma bone disease. Although several drugs reducing osteoclast-mediated bone degradation are in clinical use, approaches to specifically augment bone formation are at an early stage of development. Novel antimyeloma drugs not only directly act on myeloma cells, but impact on the microenvironment as well. Proteasome inhibitors were previously shown to have bone anabolic properties. Here we investigated the impact of immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) on bone formation. Treatment with thalidomide and lenalidomide significantly inhibited osteoblast development invitro, as reflected by a reduction of alkaline phosphatase activity and matrix mineralization. The effects were upheld in combination with bortezomib. The IMiDs upregulated Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) and inhibin beta A, but blocking these molecules was not able to restore regular osteoblast development. We therefore performed gene expression profiling to reveal other osteoblast regulatory factors that might be involved in the IMiD-mediated effect on osteoblast development. Our data indicate that osteoblast inhibition is possibly an IMiD-class effect mediated by downregulation of major osteoblast regulators (e.g., runt-related transcription factor 2, distal-less homeobox 5, pleiotrophin) and concurrent induction of secreted inhibitors of osteoblast formation (e.g. DKK1, activin A, gremlin 1). Our results highlight the need for bone anabolic therapeutics in myeloma, counteracting the negative impact of prolonged IMiD exposure on bone metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-525
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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