Bone-targeted therapies to reduce skeletal morbidity in prostate cancer

Asian J Androl. 2018 May-Jun;20(3):215-220. doi: 10.4103/aja.aja_12_18.


Bone metastases are the main driver of morbidity and mortality in advanced prostate cancer. Targeting the bone microenvironment, a key player in the pathogenesis of bone metastasis, has become one of the mainstays of therapy in men with advanced prostate cancer. This review will evaluate the data supporting the use of bone-targeted therapy, including (1) bisphosphonates such as zoledronic acid, which directly target osteoclasts, (2) denosumab, a receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) ligand inhibitor, which targets a key component of bone stromal interaction, and (3) radium-223, an alpha-emitting calcium mimetic, which hones to the metabolically active areas of osteoblastic metastasis and induces double-strand breaks in the DNA. Denosumab has shown enhanced delay in skeletal-related events compared to zoledronic acid in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Data are mixed with regard to pain control as a primary measure of efficacy. New data call into question dosing frequency, with quarterly dosing strategy potentially achieving similar effect compared to monthly dosing for zoledronic acid. In the case of radium-223, there are data for both pain palliation and improved overall survival in mCRPC. Further studies are needed to optimize timing and combination strategies for bone-targeted therapies. Ongoing studies will explore the impact of combining bone-targeted therapy with investigational therapeutic agents such as immunotherapy, for advanced prostate cancer. Future studies should strive to develop biomarkers of response, in order to improve efficacy and cost-effectiveness of these agents.

Keywords: bisphosphonate; bone metastases; prostate cancer; radiopharmaceutical; receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B-ligand.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Denosumab / therapeutic use
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Endothelins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / therapeutic use*
  • Radium / therapeutic use*
  • Samarium / therapeutic use
  • Strontium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Endothelins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Strontium Radioisotopes
  • Samarium
  • Denosumab
  • Samarium-153
  • Radium-223
  • Radium