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Bonekey Rep. 2015 Feb 11;4:634. doi: 10.1038/bonekey.2015.1. eCollection 2015.

Long-term safety of antiresorptive treatment: bone material, matrix and mineralization aspects.

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Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Osteology at the Hanusch Hospital of WGKK and AUVA Trauma Centre Meidling, 1st Medical Department, Hanusch Hospital , Vienna, Austria.


It is well established that long-term antiresorptive use is effective in the reduction of fracture risk in high bone turnover osteoporosis. Nevertheless, during recent years, concerns emerged that longer bone turnover reduction might favor the occurrence of fatigue fractures. However, the underlying mechanisms for both beneficial and suspected adverse effects are not fully understood yet. There is some evidence that their effects on the bone material characteristics have an important role. In principle, the composition and nanostructure of bone material, for example, collagen cross-links and mineral content and crystallinity, is highly dependent on tissue age. Bone turnover determines the age distribution of the bone structural units (BSUs) present in bone, which in turn is decisive for its intrinsic material properties. It is noteworthy that the effects of bone turnover reduction on bone material were observed to be dependent on the duration of the antiresorptive therapy. During the first 2-3 years, significant decreases in the heterogeneity of material properties such as mineralization of the BSUs have been observed. In the long term (5-10 years), the mineralization pattern reverts towards normal heterogeneity and degree of mineralization, with no signs of hypermineralization in the bone matrix. Nevertheless, it has been hypothesized that the occurrence of fatigue fractures (such as atypical femoral fractures) might be linked to a reduced ability of microdamage repair under antiresorptive therapy. The present article examines results from clinical studies after antiresorptive, in particular long-term, therapy with the aforementioned potentially positive or negative effects on bone material.

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