Objectives: To review the clinical value of bone turnover markers (BTM), to initiate and/or monitor anti-resorptive treatment for osteoporosis compared with bone mineral density (BMD) and to evaluate suitable BTM and changes in BTM levels for significance of treatment efficiency.
Methodology: Consensus meeting generating guidelines for clinical practice after review and discussion of the randomised controlled trials or meta-analyses on the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Results: Although the correlation between BMD and BTM is statistically significant, BTM cannot be used as predictive markers of BMD in an individual patient. Both are independent predictors of fracture risk, but BTM can only be used as an additional risk factor in the decision to treat. Current data do not support the use of BTM to select the optimal treatment. However, they can be used to monitor treatment efficiency before BMD changes can be evaluated. Early changes in BTM can be used to measure the clinical efficacy of an anti-resorptive treatment and to reinforce patient compliance.
Discussion: Determining a threshold of BTM reflecting an optimal long-term effect is not obvious. The objective should be the return to the premenopausal range and/or a decrease at least equal to the least significant change (30%). Preanalytical and analytical variability of BTM is an important limitation to their use. Serum C-terminal cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX), procollagen 1 N terminal extension peptide and bone specific alkaline phosphatase (BSALP) appear to be the most suitable.
Conclusion: Consensus regarding the use of BTM resulted in guidelines for clinical practice. BMD determines the indication to treat osteoporosis. BTM reflect treatment efficiency and can be used to motivate patients to persist with their medication.