Is there a role for bisphosphonates in chronic kidney disease?

Semin Dial. May-Jun 2007;20(3):186-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2007.00271.x.


Patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) including those on dialysis can and do develop osteoporosis. They also develop a wide range of other metabolic bone diseases that may look like osteoporosis when it is defined by either the World Health Organization bone mineral density (BMD) criteria or by the development of fragility fractures. Those dialysis patients with osteoporosis that is due to gonadal hormone deficiency such as postmenopausal osteoporosis, glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis, or male osteoporosis may benefit from the administration of bisphosphonates (BPs). The challenges lie in the diagnosis of osteoporosis in this population where adynamic, osteomalacic, hyperparathyroid, or aluminum bone disease are also prevalent, with concommitant low BMD and low trauma fractures, but where BPs may be contraindicated. The only secure means to diagnose osteoporosis in this patient population is by quantitative bone histomorphometry demonstrating low trabecular bone volume and disrupted microarchitecture. Once the diagnosis of osteoporosis is established, BPs should be considered for a well-defined brief period of time (e.g., 2-3 years), even though there is no evidence for a fracture reduction benefit in this population. If a BP is chosen there may be a need for dose adjustment or slower infusion rates (for the intravenous formulations), as a greater bone retention may occur for these renally cleared agents. While it is unknown what consequences could develop from increased bone retention in patients with little renal function, data are needed if more bone retention of BP might lead to a greater risk of the development of adynamic bone disease and lower bone strength. More data are needed to define the risks and benefits of BPs in patients with stage 5 CKD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacokinetics
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / complications*
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects


  • Diphosphonates