Assessment of bone quality in osteoporosis treatment with bone anabolic agents: Really something new?

Fabio M. Ulivieri, Renata Caudarella, Marzia Camisasca, Daniela M. Cabrini, Ilaria Merli, Carmelo Messina, Luca P. Piodi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Osteoporosis is a chronic pathologic condition, particularly of the elderly, in which a reduction of bone mineral density (BMD) weakens bone, leading to the so-called fragility fractures, most often of spine and femur. The gold standard exam for the quantitative measurement of BMD is the dual X-ray photon absorptiometry (DXA), a radiological method. However, a relevant number of fragility fractures occurs in the range of normal BMD values, meaning that also qualitative aspects of bone play a role, namely bone architecture and bone geometry. Bone structure is investigated by microCT and histomorphometry, which necessitate an invasive approach with a biopsy, usually taken at the iliac crest, not the typical site of fragility fractures. New tools, trabecular bone score (TBS) and hip structural analysis (HSA), obtained during DXA, can supply informations about bone structure of spine and femur, respectively, in a not invasive way. Therapy of osteoporosis is based on two types of drugs leading to an increase of BMD: antiresorptive and anabolic treatments. The antiresorptive drugs inhibit the osteoclasts, whereas teriparatide and, in part, strontium ranelate ameliorate bone structure. The present review deals with the relation between the anabolic drugs for osteoporosis and the cited new tools which investigate bone architecture and geometry, in order to clarify if they represent a real advantage in monitoring efficacy of osteoporosis’ treatment. Data from the studies show that increases of TBS and HSA values after anabolic therapy are small and very close to their least significant change at the end of the usual period of treatment. Therefore, it is questionable if TBS and HSA are really helpful in monitoring bone quality and in defining reduction of individual fragility fracture risk during osteoporosis treatment with bone anabolic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Rheumatology Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Anabolic therapy
  • Antiresorptive drugs
  • DXA
  • HSA
  • Osteoporosis
  • TBS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessment of bone quality in osteoporosis treatment with bone anabolic agents: Really something new?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this