Nitroglycerin ointment for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis

Ann Pharmacother. 2011 Dec;45(12):1566-70. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q410. Epub 2011 Oct 18.


Objective: To determine whether clinical trial data support the use of nitroglycerin for prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Data sources: A literature search using MEDLINE (1966-September 2011) and EMBASE (1973-September 2011) was conducted using the search terms nitroglycerin, bone mineral density, fracture, and osteoporosis. References of identified articles were reviewed for additional citations.

Study selection and data extraction: All English-language articles related to the use of nitroglycerin ointment in postmenopausal women were reviewed.

Data synthesis: Four observational studies reported significant improvements in bone mineral density of postmenopausal women with the use of nitrates. One pilot study and 2 prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials reported conflicting results regarding the efficacy of nitroglycerin ointment.

Conclusions: Clinical data do not support use of nitroglycerin for this indication; its potential is limited at this time by inconclusive efficacy and a high incidence of headache. Further well-designed clinical trials demonstrating efficacy and safety of nitroglycerin ointment for prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis are needed before this medication can be recommended for routine use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nitroglycerin / therapeutic use*
  • Ointments / therapeutic use
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Ointments
  • Nitroglycerin