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Bisphosphonates, atherosclerosis and vascular calcification: update and systematic review of clinical studies

Authors Caffarelli C, Montagnani A, Nuti R, Gonnelli S

Received 26 March 2017

Accepted for publication 15 July 2017

Published 30 October 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1819—1828

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S138002

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Carla Caffarelli,1 Andrea Montagnani,2 Ranuccio Nuti,1 Stefano Gonnelli1

1Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neuroscience, University of Siena, Italy; 2Division of Internal Medicine, General Hospital Misericordia, Grosseto, Italy

Background: Epidemiologic and clinical data have suggested the existence of a biologic linkage between the bone system and the vascular system. Bisphosphonates (BPs) are effective inhibitors of bone resorption and are currently considered the drugs of choice for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and related fractures. Data from several publications have suggested that BPs may also be effective in reducing the atherosclerotic process and vascular calcification, but the results of these studies are contrasting. This review aimed to allow a better understanding of the relationships between BPs and atherosclerosis in humans.
Materials and methods: Electronic databases of Pubmed-Medline, Cochrane Library and SCOPUS from inception to June 30, 2016 were searched. The full texts of the articles potentially eligible were carefully assessed and reviewed. Finally, 20 studies were found to be eligible and were included in the systematic review. All included studies were published between 2000 and 2014.
Results: In several studies, etidronate limited the progression of aortic and coronary calcification in hemodialysis patients, whereas the nitrogen-containing-BPs given orally did not significantly reduce vascular calcifications in patients with chronic kidney disease, kidney trasplant or in those with osteoporosis. Nitrogen-containing-BPs present favorable effects both on vessel wall thickness and on arterial elasticity due to both a reduction in serum lipids and the interaction of BPs with the bone tissue, with the consequent release of bone turnover markers and cytokines into the bloodstream.
Conclusion: To sum up, the BPs seem to have the potential of influencing atherosclerosis and calcium homeostasis at the level of vascular walls with several possible mechanisms which may differ according to the type, potency, dosage and administration route of BPs. Additional studies are needed to specifically address the mechanism by which BP use could influence cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: bisphosphonates, atherosclerosis, vascular calcification, human studies

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