Antiresorptive therapies for osteoporosis: a clinical overview

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Sep 6;8(2):81-91. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2011.146.


Antiresorptive therapies are used to increase bone strength in individuals with osteoporosis and include five principal classes of agents: bisphosphonates, estrogens, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), calcitonin and monoclonal antibodies such as denosumab. However, no head-to-head studies have compared different antiresorptive agents using fracture as an end point. Bisphosphonates, which have proven antifracture efficacy and a good safety profile, are the most widely used first-line antiresorptive therapy and are recommended for patients with osteoporosis, a prior fragility fracture or osteopenia, as well as individuals with a high risk of fracture. Denosumab, which also has good antifracture efficacy, is another possible first-line therapy, although long-term safety data are lacking. However, no single antiresorptive therapy is currently appropriate for all patients or clearly superior to other therapies. Antiresorptive agents such as estrogens, SERMs (in postmenopausal women) and calcitonin are considered to be second-line agents that are appropriate in special circumstances. Clinicians should determine the most appropriate pharmacological therapy after a careful assessment of the risk:benefit profiles of these drugs in each patient. In addition, patients should receive a detailed explanation of the treatment goals, so that the therapeutic benefit can be maximized through good compliance and persistence.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Denosumab
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Denosumab