Bisphosphonate Therapy for Reduced Bone Mineral Density During Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Childhood and Adolescence
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BACKGROUND: Osteopenia is a common consequence of the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children and adolescents, due predominantly to glucocorticosteroid therapy. The pathogenesis relates to an imbalance of resorption over formation of bone. METHODS: Alendronate (Fosamax), an inhibitor of osteoclastic bone resorption, was administered for at least 6 months to 15 children with ALL during maintenance chemotherapy, after the diagnosis of osteopenia/osteoporosis by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. The height velocity was also measured during the administration of alendronate and again 2 years later. RESULTS: Areal bone mineral density Z scores of the lumbar spine had a median value of -1.32 before administration of alendronate and a median gain of +0.64, with 14/15 children showing improvement. There was no adverse effect of alendronate on height velocity, and the drug was well tolerated with no short-term toxicity. CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary experience suggests a potential value in the use of alendronate for the treatment of osteopenia/osteoporosis in children with ALL and points to the need for a randomized controlled trial of this intervention.
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