Connectivity Map-based discovery of parbendazole reveals targetable human osteogenic pathway

Andrea Brum, Jeroen van de Peppel, Cindy Leije, M Schreuders-Koedam, Marco Eijken, Bram van der Eerden, Hans van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Osteoporosis is a common skeletal disorder characterized by low bone mass leading to increased bone fragility and fracture susceptibility. In this study, we have identified pathways that stimulate differentiation of bone forming osteoblasts from human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs). Gene expression profiling was performed in hMSCs differentiated toward osteoblasts (at 6 h). Significantly regulated genes were analyzed in silico, and the Connectivity Map (CMap) was used to identify candidate bone stimulatory compounds. The signature of parbendazole matches the expression changes observed for osteogenic hMSCs. Parbendazole stimulates osteoblast differentiation as indicated by increased alkaline phosphatase activity, mineralization, and up-regulation of bone marker genes (alkaline phosphatase/ALPL, osteopontin/SPP1, and bone sialoprotein II/IBSP) in a subset of the hMSC population resistant to the apoptotic effects of parbendazole. These osteogenic effects are independent of glucocorticoids because parbendazole does not up-regulate glucocorticoid receptor (GR) target genes and is not inhibited by the GR antagonist mifepristone. Parbendazole causes profound cytoskeletal changes including degradation of microtubules and increased focal adhesions. Stabilization of microtubules by pretreatment with Taxol inhibits osteoblast differentiation. Parbendazole up-regulates bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) gene expression and activity. Cotreatment with the BMP-2 antagonist DMH1 limits, but does not block, parbendazole-induced mineralization. Using the CMap we have identified a previously unidentified lineage-specific, bone anabolic compound, parbendazole, which induces osteogenic differentiation through a combination of cytoskeletal changes and increased BMP-2 activity.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)12711-12716
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this