Cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis: is there a link between lipids and bone?

Ann Clin Biochem. 2002 May;39(Pt 3):203-10. doi: 10.1258/0004563021902134.


Atherosclerotic heart disease and osteoporosis are both diseases of old age. Evidence is accumulating for a link between vascular and bone disease. Calcification is a common feature of atherosclerotic plaques, and osteoporosis is associated with both atherosclerosis and vascular calcification. However, the relationship of vascular calcification to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis remains incompletely understood. Hormone replacement therapy has beneficial effects in the prevention of both atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates inhibit bone resorption and are used in the treatment of osteoporosis, whereas the statins inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis and are used for the treatment of atherosclerosis. We have reviewed recent advances in the knowledge of the actions of bisphosphonates and statins at the cellular, molecular and end-organ levels in order to examine the relationship between cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis and to explore the link between lipids and bones. These studies suggest that the mechanism of actions of these two classes of drugs at the cellular level may not be mutually exclusive. There are some early clinical data to complement these findings, suggesting that statins increase bone density and bisphosphonates may have a beneficial effect in vivo on plasma lipid levels and on the atherosclerotic process. Properly designed prospective studies that examine the effect of statins on bone density and fractures, as well as the effects of bisphosphonates on lipid profiles, atherosclerotic progression and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are needed to define clearly the clinical effects and potential new roles for these agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcinosis / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cholesterol / biosynthesis
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism*


  • Diphosphonates
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Cholesterol
  • Calcium