JOURNAL ARTICLE
META-ANALYSIS
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
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Medication and bone health in multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are often prescribed medications associated with adverse effects on bone health. However, it is unclear whether these medications incur decreases in areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and higher fracture risk in this population.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of commonly used medications on aBMD and fracture risk among people with MS.

METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, CINAHL, and Web of Science were searched from their inception until February 5, 2023. We included randomized controlled trials as well as cross-sectional, retrospective, and prospective studies investigating whether glucocorticoids, immunomodulators, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, anxiolytics, opioids, or antipsychotics influenced aBMD or fracture risk in people with MS. Data were pooled using random effects meta-analyses to determine hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs.

RESULTS: We included 22 studies (n = 18,193). Six studies were included in the meta-analyses of glucocorticoid use and aBMD, whereas 2 studies were included in the medication use and fracture risk meta-analyses. No studies assessed the effect of antidepressants, anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, opioids, and antipsychotics on aBMD, and no studies assessed the effect of immunomodulators on fracture risk. Glucocorticoid use was significantly negatively associated with femoral neck aBMD (correlation = -0.21 [95% CI = -0.29 to -0.13]), but not with lumbar spine aBMD (correlation = -0.21 [95% CI = -0.50 to 0.12]). There were no differences in fracture risk between users of glucocorticoids (HR = 1.71 [95% CI = 0.04 to 76.47]), antidepressants (HR = 1.84 [95% CI = 0.09 to 38.49]), or anxiolytics (HR = 2.01 [95% CI = 0.06 to 64.22]), compared with nonusers.

CONCLUSIONS: The available evidence is insufficient to support a relationship between greater fracture risk for people with MS taking glucocorticoid, antidepressant, or anxiolytic medication, compared with nonusers, and it is unclear whether these medications are associated with bone loss in people with MS, beyond that in the general population. Additional high-quality studies with homogenous methodology exploring how medications influence aBMD and fracture risk in people with MS are required.

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