Osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures are growing problems with the aging population and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. At this time, other than parathyroid hormone analogs, all therapies for osteoporosis are antiresorptive. Therefore, researchers have focused efforts on development of more anabolic therapies. Understanding of the Wnt signaling pathway, which is critical for skeletal development, and the role of sclerostin in inhibition of Wnt signaling has led to the discovery of a novel therapeutic approach in the treatment of osteoporosis - sclerostin inhibition. In this review, we discuss the biology of Wnt signaling and sclerostin inhibition. We then discuss human disorders of decreased sclerostin function and animal models of sclerostin inhibition. Both have served to elucidate the effects of decreased sclerostin levels and function - increased bone mass and strength and fewer fractures. In addition, we review data from Phase I and II studies of the two humanized sclerostin monoclonal antibodies, romosozumab and blosozumab, both of which have had positive effects on bone mineral density. We conclude with a discussion of the ongoing Phase III studies of romosozumab. The available data support the potential for neutralizing sclerostin monoclonal antibodies to serve as anabolic agents in the treatment of osteoporosis.
Keywords: Wnt signaling; anabolic therapies; osteoporosis; romosozumab; sclerostin.