Paul J. Kostenuik PhD, Susan Y. Smith PhD, Rana Samadfam PhD, Jacquelin Jolette DVM, Lei Zhou PhD and Michael S. Ominsky PhD
Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a chronic disease wherein increased bone remodeling reduces bone mass and bone strength. Antiresorptive agents including bisphosphonates are commonly used to mitigate bone loss and fracture risk. Osteoclast inhibition via denosumab (DMAb), a RANKL inhibitor, is a newer approach for reducing fracture risk in patients at increased risk for fracture. The safety of transitioning from bisphosphonate therapy (alendronate; ALN) to DMAb was examined in mature ovariectomized (OVX) cynomolgus monkeys (cynos). One day after OVX, cynos (7-10/group) were treated with vehicle (VEH, s.c.), ALN (50 µg/kg, i.v., twice monthly) or DMAb (25 mg/kg/month, s.c.) for 12 months. Other animals received VEH or ALN for 6 months and then transitioned to 6 months of DMAb. DMAb caused significantly greater reductions in serum CTx than ALN, and transition from ALN to DMAb caused further reductions relative to continued ALN. DMAb and ALN decreased serum calcium (Ca), and transition from ALN to DMAb resulted in a lesser decline in Ca relative to DMAb or VEH-DMAb transition. Bone histomorphometry indicated significantly reduced trabecular and cortical remodeling with DMAb or ALN. Compared with ALN, DMAb caused greater reductions in osteoclast surface, eroded surface, cortical porosity and fluorochrome labeling, and transition from ALN to DMAb reduced these parameters relative to continued ALN. Bone mineral density increased in all active treatment groups relative to VEH controls. Destructive biomechanical testing revealed significantly greater vertebral strength in all three groups receiving DMAb, including those receiving DMAb after ALN, relative to VEH controls. Bone mass and strength remained highly correlated in all groups at all tested skeletal sites, consistent with normal bone quality. These data indicate that cynos transitioned from ALN to DMAb exhibited reduced bone resorption and cortical porosity, and increased BMD and bone strength, without deleterious effects on Ca homeostasis or bone quality.