Two alendronate-EP4 agonist (ALN-EP4a) conjugate drugs, C1 and C2, which differ in structure by a short linker molecule, were evaluated in ovariectomized (OVX) rats for their anabolic effects. We showed that C1 led to significant anabolic effects on cortical and trabecular bone while anabolic effects associated with C2 were minimal.
Introduction: EP4as were covalently linked to ALN to create ALN-EP4a conjugate anabolic bone drugs, C1 and C2, which differ in structure by a short linker molecule in C1. When administered systemically, C1 and C2 are delivered to bone through targeted binding of ALN, where local hydrolytic enzymes liberate EP4a from ALN to exert anabolic effects. Here, we compare effects of C1 to C2 in a curative in vivo study.
Methods: Three-month-old female Sprague Dawley rats were OVX or sham operated and allowed to lose bone for 3 months. Animals were then treated via tail vein injections for 3 months and sacrificed. Treatment groups were as follows: C1L (5 mg/kg biweekly), C1H (5 mg/kg weekly), C2L (15 mg/kg monthly), C2H (15 mg/kg biweekly), OVX and sham control (phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) biweekly), and ALN/EP4a-unconjugated mixture (0.75 mg/kg each biweekly).
Results: MicroCT analysis showed that C1H treatment significantly increased vertebral bone mineral density (vBMD) and trabecular bone volume versus OVX controls while C2 treatments did not. Biomechanical testing showed that C1H treatment but not C2 treatments led to significant improvement in the load bearing abilities of the vertebrae compared to OVX controls. C1 stimulated endocortical bone formation and increased load bearing in femurs, while C2 did not.
Conclusions: We showed that C1 led to significant anabolic effects on cortical and trabecular bone while anabolic effects associated with C2 were minimal. These results led us to hypothesize a mode of action by which presence of a linker is crucial in facilitating the anabolic effects of EP4a when dosed as a prodrug with ALN.
Keywords: Anabolic drug; Biomechanical testing; Bisphosphonates; Bone histomorphometry; Conjugate drug; Osteoporosis.