The Bisphosphonates Clodronate and Etidronate Exert Analgesic Effects by Acting on Glutamate- and/or ATP-Related Pain Transmission Pathways

Kazuhiro Shima, Wataru Nemoto, Masahiro Tsuchiya, Koichi Tan-No, Teruko Takano-Yamamoto, Shunji Sugawara, Yasuo Endo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Bisphosphonates (BPs) are typical anti-bone-resorptive drugs, with nitrogen-containing BPs (N-BPs) being stronger than non-nitrogen-containing BPs (non-N-BPs). However, N-BPs have inflammatory/necrotic effects, while the non-N-BPs clodronate and etidronate lack such side effects. Pharmacological studies have suggested that clodronate and etidronate can (i) prevent the side effects of N-BPs in mice via inhibition of the phosphate transporter families SLC20 and/or SLC34, through which N-BPs enter soft-tissue cells, and (ii) also inhibit the phosphate transporter family SLC17. Vesicular transporters for the pain transmitters glutamate and ATP belong to the SLC17 family. Here, we examined the hypothesis that clodronate and etidronate may enter neurons through SLC20/34, then inhibit SLC17-mediated transport of glutamate and/or ATP, resulting in their decrease, and thereby produce analgesic effects. We analyzed in mice the effects of various agents [namely, intrathecally injected clodronate, etidronate, phosphonoformic acid (PFA; an inhibitor of SLC20/34), and agonists of glutamate and ATP receptors] on the nociceptive responses to intraplantar injection of capsaicin. Clodronate and etidronate produced analgesic effects, and these effects were abolished by PFA. The analgesic effects were reduced by N-methyl-D-aspartate (agonist of the NMDA receptor, a glutamate receptor) and α,β-methylene ATP (agonist of the P2X-receptor, an ATP receptor). SLC20A1, SLC20A2, and SLC34A1 were detected within the mouse lumbar spinal cord. Although we need direct evidence, these results support the above hypothesis. Clodronate and etidronate may be representatives of a new type of analgesic drug. Such drugs, with both anti-bone-resorptive and unique analgesic effects without the adverse effects associated with N-BPs, might be useful for osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-777
Number of pages8
JournalBiological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 1


  • ATP
  • Analgesic effect
  • Clodronate
  • Etidronate
  • Glutamate
  • Phosphate transporter


Dive into the research topics of 'The Bisphosphonates Clodronate and Etidronate Exert Analgesic Effects by Acting on Glutamate- and/or ATP-Related Pain Transmission Pathways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this