The inhibitory effects of colchicine on cell proliferation and mineralisation in culture

M. Salai*, E. Segal, I. Cohen, I. Dudkiewicz, N. Farzame, S. Pitaru, N. Savion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colchicine is often used in the treatment of diseases such as familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) and gout. We have previously reported that patients with FMF who had colchicine on a daily basis and who had a total hip arthroplasty showed no heterotopic ossification after surgery. The mechanism by which colchicine causes this clinical phenomenon has never been elucidated. We therefore evaluated the effect of various concentrations of colchicine on cell proliferation and mineralisation in tissue culture, using rat and human cells with and without osteogenic potential. Cell proliferation was assessed by direct cell counts and uptake of (3H)thymidine, and mineralisation by measuring the amount of staining by Alizarin Red. Our findings indicate that concentrations of colchicine of up to 3 ng/ml did not affect cell proliferation but inhibition was observed at 10 to 30 ng/ml. Mineralisation decreased to almost 50%, which was the maximum inhibition observed, at concentrations of colchicine of 2.5 ng/ml. These results indicate that colchicine at low concentrations, of up to 3 ng/ml, has the capacity to inhibit selectively bone-like cell mineralisation in culture, without affecting cell proliferation. Further clinical and laboratory studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of colchicine on biological processes involving the proliferation of osteoblasts and tissue mineralisation in vivo, such as the healing of fractures, the formation of heterotopic bone and neoplastic bone growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)912-915
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series B
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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