[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluoroquinolones (FQs) are a class of antibiotics with a broad spectrum of activity, known to disturb bone metabolism. The aim of this work was to characterize the cellular and molecular effects of five FQs (ofloxacin, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and moxifloxacin) in unstimulated and stimulated human osteoclast precursors. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were cultured in the absence (unstimulated) or in the presence of osteoclastogenic factors (M-CSF and RANKL, stimulated), and were treated with FQs (0.3×10(-9)-10(-3) M), for 21 days. In unstimulated PBMC cultures, FQs (excepting moxifloxacin) exhibited a high osteoclastogenic potential, as shown by a significant increase in the expression of osteoclastic genes, TRAP activity and, specially, number of TRAP-positive multinucleated cells and calcium phosphate resorbing ability, suggesting the presence of mature and functional osteoclasts. Norfloxacin and levofloxacin induced the higher effect, followed by ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin. A decrease on apoptosis and an increase on M-CSF expression might have a possible contribution in the observed cellular behavior. In stimulated PBMC cultures, FQs further increase the osteoclastogenic response induced by M-CSF and RANKL (except ofloxacin). However, the osteoclastogenic response was much lower than that observed in unstimulated PBMC cultures. Both in unstimulated and stimulated PBMC cultures, for most of the FQs, the osteoclastogenic effects were observed in a wide range of concentrations, representative of plasmatic and tissue levels attained in several clinical settings. The various FQs differed on the stimulatory concentration range, the extent of the induced osteoclastogenic response and, also, on the dose- and time-dependent profile. Nevertheless, at high concentrations all the FQs seemed to elicit an increase on apoptosis. Additionally, some differences were noted in the intracellular signaling pathways tested, namely NFkB, MEK and PGE2 production. Results suggest that, considering the inter-individual variability of the FQs pharmacokinetics, the detailed biological profile of each FQ on bone cells is of utmost importance to clarify the effects of these compounds on bone metabolism.