Randomized controlled trial of alendronate in airways disease and low bone mineral density

Chron Respir Dis. 2004;1(3):131-7. doi: 10.1191/1479972304cd025oa.


Background: Patients with airways disease have been demonstrated to be at risk of osteoporosis, and this is likely to be multifactorial. Our aim was to identify patients with low bone mineral density (BMD) using a screening program, and then evaluate the benefit of daily alendronate.

Method: Subjects with hip or lumbar spine baseline T-scores < - 2.5, or Z-score < - 1.0 commenced on alendronate/calcium (10 mg/600 mg day) or placebo/calcium, in a double blind randomized controlled trial. BMD by dual emission X-ray absorptiometry (lumbar vertebrae 2-4, neck of femur, total femur) was repeated after 12 months, with adverse events recorded.

Results: 145 subjects (74 male, 71 female, mean age 67, median FEV1 1.0 litres = 43% of predicted) were enrolled; 66 alendronate/calcium, 79 placebo/calcium with 24 and 26 withdrawals, respectively. Per protocol but not intention to treat analysis of covariance demonstrated statistically significant improvements in T and Z scores for lumbar spine bone mineral density (P = 0.035, P = 0.040), with no improvement demonstrated at the hip.

Conclusions: Improvement in bone mineral density has been demonstrated at the lumbar spine, but not hip, by per protocol analysis, with daily alendronate, at 12 months.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Alendronate / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Density*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Alendronate