Combined therapies in osteoporosis: Bisphosphonates and Vitamin D-hormone analogs

Schacht E.1, Richy F.2, Dukas L.3

Summary. During the last two decades, the development of new, highly effective therapeutics (e.g. bisphosphonates, SERMs, strontium ranelate and PTH) has significantly extended the spectrum of osteoporosis therapy. However, the interest of combining bone-active agents and/or Vitamin D and calcium is still being debated, and is restricted to a very marginal set of compounds (Alendronate and native Vitamin D). On the other hand, Vitamin D-hormone analogs, calcitriol, and alfacalcidol, have repeated­ly demonstrated their effectiveness in being valuable alternatives compared to native Vitamin D in this setting. A growing amount of data documents the pre-clinical and clinical efficacies of combinations of bisphosphonates with calcitriol, or with alfacalcidol in primary and secondary osteoporosis. This exhaustive review of the available animal and clinical data aimed at comparing the the­oretical with demonstrated absolute and relative benefits of those therapeutic approaches. Most of the pre-clinical and clinical data in PMOP suggest significant, clinical improvements in response to combination therapies versus monotherapies in postmenopausal osteoporosis. As a investigated by most of the currently available trials, a daily dose of alendronate 10 mg or a weekly dose of Alendronate 70 mg plus alfacalcidol 0.5–1.0 μg daily plus alfacalcidol 0.5 μg seems to surpass other combinations when BMD and bone metabolism markers are considered. A synergy with bisphosphonates in reducing the fracture episodes may he in the pleiotropic effects of D-hormone analogs on musculoskeletal, immunological and neurological systems. Negative interactions between both drugs have not yet been reported, while a reduction of hypercalcuria episodes has been noted in combination ther­apies, as compared to monotherapies involving high doses of Vitamin D, calcitriol, or alfacalcidol. Based on the possible reduction of periodic safety checks of calcemia, an improved compliance could then be expected, which would, in turn, generate a better end result. However, to document this, long-term, high quality comparative studies with factorial designs are needed to determine which role this alternative should play in the management of postmenopausal, male, and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.

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