OBJECTIVE: To assess bone turnover markers (BTM) and bone mineral density (BMD) after discontinuation of alendronate treatment used for five or more years. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: 40 patients (pt) with post-menopausal osteoporosis treated with alendronate (10 mg/d) for at least five years (Group 1, G1) had their medication discontinued. Group 2 (G2): 25 pt treated with alendronate for at least one year. Group 3 (G3): 23 treatment-naïve osteoporotic pt. BMD was evaluated in G1 and G2 at baseline and after 12 months. Collagen type I cross-linked C-telopeptide (CTX) and procollagen type 1 N-terminal propeptide (P1NP) levels were measured in all pt at baseline, and in G1 and G2 every three months for 12 months. Data were analyzed using ANOVA on ranks and Mann-Whitney tests. RESULTS: Mean BMD values in G1 and G2 did not differ during follow-up. However, 16 pt (45.7%) in G1 and one (5.2%) in G2 lost BMD (P < 0.001). BTM at baseline was not different between G1 and G2, and both were lower than G3. A significant increase in BTM levels was detected in G1 pt after three months, but not in G2. CONCLUSION: Observed BMD loss and BTM rise after alendronate withdrawal imply that bone turnover was not over suppressed, and alendronate discontinuation may not be safe.
Bone mineral density; bone turnover markers; alendronate discontinuation; osteoporosis