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Bone. 2006 Oct;39(4):787-95. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

A single intravenous administration of zoledronic acid prevents the bone loss and mechanical compromise induced by aromatase inhibition in rats.

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Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Novartis Pharma AG, 4002 Basel, Switzerland. <>


Recent evidence has demonstrated that long-term estrogen deprivation using aromatase inhibitor therapy in postmenopausal women with breast cancer results in bone loss and increased fracture risk. Bisphosphonates are potent inhibitors of bone resorption and have demonstrated efficacy in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women with low bone mineral density (BMD) and in patients with breast cancer receiving estrogen deprivation therapy. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of the bisphosphonate zoledronic acid on BMD and bone strength in rats treated with the aromatase inhibitor, letrozole. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography demonstrated that treatment of rats with daily oral letrozole (1 mg/kg) induced significant bone loss and cortical thinning compared with control animals (P < 0.01). A single prior intravenous dose of zoledronic acid dose dependently protected against letrozole-induced bone loss and cortical thinning, with the highest evaluated dose (20 microg/kg) resulting in BMD values that were not significantly different from controls over the 24 weeks of letrozole treatment. Furthermore, biomechanical testing of the distal femoral metaphysis demonstrated that zoledronic acid (20 microg/kg) significantly prevented the decrease in stiffness and elastic modulus induced by letrozole treatment. Taken together, these data support the use of zoledronic acid for the prevention of bone loss in women with breast cancer receiving aromatase inhibitor therapy.

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