Factors associated with bisphosphonate treatment failure in postmenopausal women with primary osteoporosis

E. Cairoli, C. Eller-Vainicher, F. M. Ulivieri, V. V. Zhukouskaya, S. Palmieri, V. Morelli, P. Beck-Peccoz, I. Chiodini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary: Among 97 postmenopausal women with primary osteoporosis, adequate calcium and vitamin D supplementation, and good compliance to a 36-month bisphosphonate treatment, the 25.8 % of patients are inadequate responders. Current smoking and a bone turnover in the upper part of the normal range increase the risk of treatment failure. Introduction: To evaluate the prevalence of the bisphosphonate treatment failure and its possible associated factors in women with primary osteoporosis (PO). Methods: We studied 97 previously untreated postmenopausal women with PO and fragility fractures and/or a FRAX® 10-year probability of a major osteoporotic fracture ≥7.5 %, before and after a 36-month treatment with alendronate or risedronate and adequate vitamin D supplementation with good compliance. At baseline and after 36 months, lumbar spine (LS) and femoral bone mineral density (BMD) were assessed by Dual X-ray absorptiometry and vertebral fractures by spinal radiographs. Spinal deformity index (SDI) was calculated. Treatment failure was defined by the presence of ≥2 incident fragility fractures and/or a BMD decrease greater than the least significant change. Results: Bisphosphonate treatment failure was observed in 25.8 % of patients. Age, body mass index, years since menopause, familiar history of hip fracture, number of falls, type of bisphosphonate used, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (25OHVitD), BMD, SDI, and FRAX® score at baseline were not different between responders and inadequate responders. Treatment failure was associated with current smoking (OR 3.22, 95 % CI 1.10-9.50, P=0.034) and baseline alkaline phosphatase total activity levels ≥66.5 U/L (OR 4.22, 95 % CI 1.48-12.01, P=0.007), regardless of age, number of falls, LS BMD, and baseline SDI. Conclusions: The 25.8 % of PO postmenopausal women inadequately responds to bisphosphonates, despite a good compliance to therapy and normal 25OHVitD levels. The current smoking and bone turnover in the upper part of the normal range are associated with the inadequate response to bisphosphonates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-1410
Number of pages10
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Primary osteoporosis
  • Treatment failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)


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