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Keywords:

  • HR-pQCT;
  • MICRO–COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY;
  • BONE STRUCTURE;
  • BIOMECHANICS;
  • OSTEOPOROSIS;
  • ALENDRONATE

Abstract

The goal of this study was to characterize longitudinal changes in bone microarchitecture and function in women treated with an established antifracture therapeutic. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study, 53 early postmenopausal women with low bone density (age = 56 ± 4 years; femoral neck T-score = −1.5 ± 0.6) were monitored by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) for 24 months following randomization to alendronate (ALN) or placebo (PBO) treatment groups. Subjects underwent annual HR-pQCT imaging of the distal radius and tibia, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and determination of biochemical markers of bone turnover (BSAP and uNTx). In addition to bone density and microarchitecture assessment, regional analysis, cortical porosity quantification, and micro-finite-element analysis were performed. After 24 months of treatment, at the distal tibia but not the radius, HR-pQCT measures showed significant improvements over baseline in the ALN group, particularly densitometric measures in the cortical and trabecular compartments and endocortical geometry (cortical thickness and area, medullary area) (p < .05). Cortical volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) in the tibia alone showed a significant difference between treatment groups after 24 months (p < .05); however, regionally, significant differences in Tb.vBMD, Tb.N, and Ct.Th were found for the lateral quadrant of the radius (p < .05). Spearman correlation analysis revealed that the biomechanical response to ALN in the radius and tibia was specifically associated with changes in trabecular microarchitecture (|ρ| = 0.51 to 0.80, p < .05), whereas PBO progression of bone loss was associated with a broad range of changes in density, geometry, and microarchitecture (|ρ| = 0.56 to 0.89, p < .05). Baseline cortical geometry and porosity measures best predicted ALN-induced change in biomechanics at both sites (ρ > 0.48, p < .05). These findings suggest a more pronounced response to ALN in the tibia than in the radius, driven by trabecular and endocortical changes. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.