Background/objectives. Osteopenia is a significant morbidity in children undergoing therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). We conducted a pilot study to assess the impact of alendronate on whole body bone mineral content (WB-BMC), lumbar spine bone mineral density (LS-BMD), biochemical measures of bone mineral metabolism, as well as gross motor function and health-related quality of life (HRQL) in children undergoing therapy for ALL or NHL.
Methods. Ten children (nine boys) between the ages of 3.6 and 14.6 years, on identical maintenance chemotherapy for ALL or NHL were treated with oral alendronate once weekly, and daily calcium supplementation, for a period of six months. Outcome measures were WB-BMC and LSBMD; biochemical measures of bone mineral metabolism including plasma osteocalcin, C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (CTx), serum calcium, 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25-OHD), and parathyroid hormone (PTH); as well as assessments of motor function and HRQL.
Results. A gain in Z score was observed in 7/9 evaluable patients for WB-BMC (mean increase of 0.49) and LS-BMD (0.51). Plasma osteocalcin and CTx showed a change in bone turnover favouring formation over resorption. Serum calcium and 25- OHD remained normal throughout treatment. After an initial spike, serum PTH returned to baseline values at week 4. Measures of motor function showed some improvement and there were modest gains in HRQL.
Conclusions. Alendronate therapy was tolerated well. Further study in a larger sample of children with ALL or NHL is warranted, in the context of a randomized clinical trial.