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Bisphosphonates in the management of Paget's disease

Stuart H Ralston
Bone 2020, 138: 115465
The first clinical use of bisphosphonates was in Paget's disease of bone (PDB) when disodium etidronate was found to be effective at suppressing metabolic activity of the disease. Subsequently, PDB became a testing ground for many bisphosphonates using changes in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) as the primary outcome measure in clinical trials. Bisphosphonates are now considered to be the treatment of choice for PDB since they are highly effective at suppressing the elevations in bone turnover that are characteristic of the disease. Short term studies have shown that treatment with alendronate and risedronate can promote formation of lamellar bone in affected sites and improve x-ray appearances in some patients. Bisphosphonates have also been shown to improve bone pain in PDB and within the bisphosphonates, zoledronic acid (ZA) is most likely to give a favourable pain response. Many patients with PDB do not have pain however, even when there is increased metabolic activity and more research is needed to find out why this is the case. The effects of bisphosphonates on complications of PDB such as deformity, pathological fractures and deafness have not been adequately studied since most clinical trials have been short term and have not collected information on these important outcomes. The PRISM and PRISM-EZ studies investigated the long-term effects of bisphosphonates in patients with established PDB using a treat-to-target approach and showed that intensive bisphosphonate therapy aimed at normalising ALP was no more effective than symptom directed treatment with bisphosphonates at preventing complications of PDB. The Zoledronate in the Prevention of Paget's Disease (ZiPP) trial, which is currently in progress, seeks to determine whether early intervention with this potent bisphosphonate might be effective in preventing disease progression. Should the ZiPP study yield positive results, genetic testing coupled to prophylactic bisphosphonate therapy might represent a new indication for these highly effective inhibitors of bone resorption in future years.

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