The Thiocarbamate Disulphide Drug, Disulfiram Induces Osteopenia in Rats by Inhibition of Osteoblast Function Due to Suppression of Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase Activity

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Dithiocarbamates (DTC), a sulfhydryl group containing compounds, are extensively used by humans that include metam and thiram due to their pesticide properties, and disulfiram (DSF) as an alcohol deterrent. We screened these DTC in an osteoblast viability assay. DSF exhibited the highest cytotoxicity (IC50 488nM). Loss in osteoblast viability and proliferation was due to induction of apoptosis via G1 arrest. DSF treatment to osteoblasts reduced glutathione (GSH) levels and exogenous addition of GSH prevented DSF-induced reactive oxygen species generation and osteoblast apoptosis. DSF also inhibited osteoblast differentiationin vitroandin vivo, and the effect was associated with inhibition of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity. Out of various ALDH isozymes, osteoblasts expressed only ALDH2 and DSF downregulated its transcript as well as activity. Alda-1, a specific activator of ALDH2, stimulated osteoblast differentiation. Subcutaneous injection of DSF over the calvarium of new born rats reduced the differentiation phenotype of calvarial osteoblasts but increased the mRNA levels of Runx-2 and osteocalcin. DSF treatment at a human-equivalent dose of 30 mg/kg p.o. to adult Sprague Dawley rats caused trabecular osteopenia and suppressed the formation of mineralized nodule by bone marrow stromal cells. Moreover, DSF diminished bone regeneration at the fracture site. In growing rats, DSF diminished growth plate height, primary and secondary spongiosa, mineralized osteoid and trabecular strength. Substantial decreased bone formation was also observed in the cortical site of these rats. We conclude that DSF has a strong osteopenia inducing effect by impairing osteoblast survival and differentiation due to the inhibition of ALDH2 function.

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