Inflammation-Induced Bone Loss: Can it Be Prevented?

Evange Romas, Matthew T. Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Inflammatory synovitis induces profound bone loss and OCLs are the instrument of this destruction. TNF blockers have an established role in the prevention of inflammatory bone loss in RA; however, not all patients respond to anti-TNF therapy and side effects may prevent long-term treatment in others. The B-cell-depleting antibody rituximab and the T-cell costimulation blocker abatacept are emerging as major treatment options for patients who are resistant to anti-TNF [96,97]. Proof-of-concept studies demonstrate that targeting RANK-mediated osteoclastogenesis prevents inflammatory bone loss and clinical application has only just begun. The efficacy of RANKL inhibition has been witnessed in trials of Denosumab, and RANKL-neutralizing antibodies are likely to become the treatment of choice for blocking RANKL in RA [77,78]. A major limitation of RANKL antagonism is that it does not treat synovitis. Therefore, anti-RANKL therapy most likely will be used in the context of MTX therapy. There is uncertainty about the possible extraskeletal adverse effects of long-term RANKL blockade. In particular, anti-RANKL therapy could jeopardize dendritic cell function or survival. The demonstrable role of OCLs in inflammation-induced bone loss also invites a reconsideration of the new BPs for bone protection [98]. Studies of ZA in preclinical models indicate that bone protection is comparable to that afforded by OPG. One possible caveat is that intravenous BPs are linked to jaw osteonecrosis [99], although the incidence is confined mainly to intensive treatment in the oncology setting. Although pulsed PTH stimulated bone formation in arthritic models, it has yet to be proven clinically in the context of powerful OCL inhibition with TNF or RANKL antagonists. With strategies that normalize OCL numbers, clinicians are poised to accomplish effective prevention of inflammation-induced bone loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-773
Number of pages15
JournalRheumatic Disease Clinics of North America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

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