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Research Article

The effects of 2-year treatment with the aminobisphosphonate alendronate on bone metabolism, bone histomorphometry, and bone strength in ovariectomized nonhuman primates.

R Balena, B C Toolan, M Shea, A Markatos, E R Myers, S C Lee, E E Opas, J G Seedor, H Klein and D Frankenfield

Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486.

Published December 1993

This study examined the effect of 2 yr of treatment with the aminobisphosphonate alendronate (ALN) (0.05 or 0.25 mg/kg i.v. ALN every 2 wk) on estrogen deficiency bone loss and bone strength changes in ovariectomized (OVX) baboons (n = 7 per group) and the ALN mode of action at the tissue level. Biochemical markers of bone turnover increased in OVX animals and were maintained by ALN treatment at non-OVX levels (low dose) or below (high dose). 2 yr of treatment produced no cumulative effects on bone turnover markers. Histomorphometry showed a marked increase in cancellous bone remodeling in OVX animals. Activation frequency increased from 0.48 to 0.86 per yr (L5 vertebra), and the osteoid surfaces from 9 to 13.5% (P < 0.05). No changes were observed in eroded and osteoclast surfaces. ALN treatment decreased activation frequency and indices of bone formation to control levels (low dose) or below (high dose), did not change indices of mineralization, and increased bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar vertebrae (L2-L4) by 15% at 0.25 mg/kg (P < 0.05), relative to vehicle-treated animals. The mean strength of cancellous bone (L4) increased by 44% (low ALN dose) and 100% (high dose), compared with vehicle. The strength of individual bones correlated with the square of the L2-L4 BMD (r = 0.91, P < 0.0034). In conclusion, ALN treatment reversed the effects of ovariectomy on cancellous bone turnover and increased bone mass and bone strength in baboons.

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