An OA phenotype may obtain major benefit from bone-acting agents

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2014 Feb;43(4):421-8. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2013.07.012. Epub 2013 Sep 7.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) joints display relevant microstructure alterations associated to an increase in remodeling at subchondral bone, which supports its crucial role in OA pathogenesis. Despite this, the treatment of knee OA patients with antiresorptive drugs has given discordant results, suggesting the existence of a particular patient subset with good response to halting high subchondral remodeling.

Objective: To identify an OA phenotype that may obtain major benefit from therapy with bone-acting agents.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed by searching the Medline and PubMed databases from 1990 to April 2013 using the following keywords: subchondral bone, articular cartilage, and osteoarthritis in various combinations with bone agents, bone mineral density, and scintigraphy.

Results: Early animal and human studies provided the rationale for the beneficial use of bone agents on OA cartilage damage. Several bone-acting agents have reduced low back pain and likely spondylosis progression. Recently, strontium ranelate has been reported to exert both structural and clinical benefits in knee OA patients with radiological progression. However, other antiresorptives have shown divergent results. Human studies suggest that these contradictory results may be due to the lack of well-defined OA phenotypes and an accurate methodology to recruit and follow up these patients.

Conclusions: A particular subset of postmenopausal patients with high remodeling and/or low subchondral bone density may benefit from the treatment with bone-acting agents hindering OA progression. This OA population could be identified with the simultaneous use of subchondral bone dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and scintigraphy.

Keywords: articular cartilage; bone agents; osteoarthritis; osteoporosis; subchondral bone.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Remodeling / drug effects*
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Radiography


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents