Bisphosphonates in chronic kidney disease; Balancing potential benefits and adverse effects on bone and soft tissue

Nigel David Toussaint, Grahame J Elder, Peter Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalShort ReviewOtherpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiovascular disease is highly prevalent in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and is often associated with increased vascular stiffness and calcification. Recent studies have suggested a complex interaction between vascular calcification and abnormalities of bone and mineral metabolism, with an inverse relationship between arterial calcification and bone mineral density (BMD). Although osteoporosis is recognized and treated in CKD 1 to 3, the interpretation of BMD levels in the osteoporotic range is controversial in CKD 4, 5, and 5D when renal osteodystrophy is generally present. In addition, there is a paucity of data for patients with CKD mineral and bone disorder (MBD), because studies using bisphosphonates in postmenopausal and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis have generally excluded patients with significant CKD. For these patients, treatment of low BMD using standard therapies for osteoporosis is not without potential for harm due to the possibility of worsening low bone turnover, osteomalacia, mixed uraemic osteodystrophy, and of exacerbated hyperparathyroidism; and bisphosphonates should only be used selectively and with caution. Some experimental and clinical studies have also suggested that bisphosphonates may reduce progression of extra-osseous calcification and inhibit the development of atherosclerosis. The authors review the potential benefits and risks associated with bisphosphonate use for bone protection in CKD, and assess their effect on vascular calcification and atherosclerosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221 - 233
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Cite this