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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Bupivacaine in combination with sildenafil (Viagra) and vitamin D3 have anti-inflammatory effects in osteoarthritic chondrocytes

Hansson, Eva; Skiöldebrand, Eva


To treat osteoarthritic chondrocytes and thereby reduce the inflammation with a drug combination that primarily affects 5-HT- and ATP-evoked Ca2+ signaling. In osteoarthritic chondrocytes, Ca2+ signaling is elevated, resulting in increased production of ATP and inflammatory mediators. The expression of TLR4 and Na+/K+-ATPase was used to evaluate the inflammatory status of the cells.

Main methods
Equine chondrocytes were collected from joints with mild structural osteoarthritic changes and cultured in monolayers. The cells were treated with a combination of bupivacaine (1 pM) and sildenafil (1 ​μM) in combination with vitamin D3 (100 ​nM). A high-throughput screening system, the Flexstation 3 microplate reader, was used to measure intra- and extracellular Ca2+ signaling after exposure to 5-HT, glutamate, or ATP. Expression of inflammatory receptors was assessed by Western blotting.

Key findings
Drug treatment substantially reduced 5-HT- and ATP-evoked intracellular Ca2+ release and TLR4 expression compared to those in untreated chondrocytes. The combination of sildenafil, vitamin D3 together with metformin, as the ability to take up glucose is limited, increased Na+/K+-ATPase expression.

​​​​​​​The combination of these three therapeutic substances at concentrations much lower than usually used, reduced expression of the inflammatory receptor TLR4 and increased the cell membrane enzyme Na+/K+-ATPase, which regulates cell volume and reduces increased intracellular Ca2+ concentrations. These remarkable results indicate that this drug combination has disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug (DMOAD) properties and may be a new clinical therapy for osteoarthritis (OA).

Published in

Current Research in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery
2021, volume: 2, article number: 100066

Authors' information

Hansson, Eva
University of Gothenburg
University of Gothenburg

UKÄ Subject classification

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Publication Identifiers


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