Management of beta-thalassemia–associated osteoporosis

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Abstract

Beta-Thalassemia–associated osteoporosis is a multifactorial and complex condition. Different acquired and genetic factors are involved in its pathogenesis. These factors produce an imbalance in bone remodeling by inhibiting osteoblast activity and increasing osteoclast function, leading to bone loss and increased fracture risk. The management of patients presenting with thalassemia-associated osteoporosis should consist of the implementation of general measures and the prescription of a specific pharmacological agent, with the aim of reducing fracture risk and preventing disability and deterioration of quality of life. General measures include control of anemia, adequate chelation therapy, healthy nutrition and lifestyle, regular exercise, adequate management of comorbid conditions, hormone replacement therapy in patients with hypogonadism, and vitamin D supplementation/therapy. Among the pharmacological agents currently available for the management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men, bisphosphonates have been shown to improve bone mineral density, to reduce bone turnover, and to decrease bone/back pain in patients with thalassemia-associated osteoporosis, with a good profile of safety and tolerability. On the other hand, there are limited experiences with other pharmacological agents (e.g., denosumab or teriparatide). The complexity of this condition presents diagnostic and therapeutic challenges and underscores the importance of a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach.

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