Published on 25 Oct 2012
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Background: Osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are interconnected entities with pathophysiological similarities. Bisphosphonates are therapeutic options available for resorptive bone diseases; however, experimental evidence has demonstrated a role for bisphosphonates in the inhibition of atherogenesis.
Methods: A systematic review of the vascular effects of bisphosphonates on atherosclerosis was performed. Vascular effects were evaluated by the thickening of the intima-media of carotid arteries and calcification of the coronary and aorta arteries. Electronic databases PubMed,The Cochrane Library, and Embase from January 1980 to May 2011 were searched.
Results: Of 169 potentially relevant articles, 9 clinical trials were selected. Two articles showed the benefit of the use of etidronate (-0.038 mm, P < 0.005) and alendronate (-0.025 mm, P < 0.05) on carotid artery intima-media thickening (CIMT) after one year. One article found no changes associated with the use of alendronate. The use of risedronate was associated with a reduction of plaque score on the carotid arteries (decrease of 1% at 1 year, P = 0.015). Of those studies that evaluated the effect on coronary artery calcification (CAC), the results are conflicting: one study showed no changes with use of etidronate and in another, etidronate resulted in inhibition of the process of CAC after 1 year of follow-up (-372 mm3 in CAC score, P < 0.01). Three studies showed positive effects of etidronate on the aortic calcificaton (AC) score, showing no effect with use of ibandronate, and another showed a inhibition in the progression of the abdominal AC score with use of risendronate (P = 0.043).
Conclusion: Bisphosphonates seem to have an inhibitory effect on the atherosclerotic process; however, larger placebo-controlled studies are needed to better clarify this issue.
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