Approach to the management of β thalassemia major associated osteoporosis - A long-standing relationship revisited Osteoporosis in β-thalassemia major

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Maria P. Yavropoulou
Athanasios D. Anastasilakis
Ploutarchos Tzoulis
Symeon Tournis
Efthimia Rigatou
Eva Kassi
Antonis Kattamis
Polyzois Makras


Anemia, iron overload, bone cells, bisphosphonates, teriparatide,, denosumab, fractures


Adults with β- thalassemia major (β-TM) develop low BMD and fragility fractures at a higher incidence and at a younger age compared to the general population. The disease itself, including direct effects of anemia and iron overload toxicity on bone turnover, genetic susceptibility, thalassemia-related endocrinopathies and acquittance of suboptimal peak bone mass contribute to low bone mass and increased bone fragility frequently encountered among these patients. Current management of osteoporosis requires long-term treatment that can be provided by agents that reduce the risk of all osteoporotic fractures by modulating bone metabolism with different mechanisms of action. These include inhibitors of bone remodeling (e.g., bisphosphonates, denosumab) and stimulators of bone formation (e.g., PTHR1 agonists and sclerostin antibodies). Considering the unique characteristics of osteoporosis associated with β-TM and the clinical importance of balancing the risk/benefit of treatment in the long-term, appropriate use of these therapeutic approaches is essential for patient care. In this review we outline current literature on the use of anti-osteoporotic drugs in β-TM patients with osteoporosis focusing on data on the efficacy, safety, and duration of treatment. In addition, we propose a long-term management plan for β-TM -associated osteoporosis aiming at the optimal patient care for this special population.


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