The role of biphosphonates in the management of thalassemia-induced osteoporosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Hormones (Athens). 2018 Jun;17(2):153-166. doi: 10.1007/s42000-018-0019-3. Epub 2018 May 2.


Thalassemia Major (TM) is a clinical entity with a high prevalence of low bone mass. The aim of the present study was to perform a meta-analysis of all available data on the role of bisphosphonates (BPs) in the therapy of thalassemia major-induced osteoporosis. The PRISMA recommendations for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses were used to guide the present study. We searched PubMed and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) through March 31, 2017 for articles related to thalassemia and BPs. To meta-analytically synthesize the primary endpoint, we used the standardized mean difference (SMD) after Hedges's g transformation under the scenario of a random effects model. Heterogeneity across studies was examined using the I2 statistic. Nine randomized controlled trials (RCTs) containing original data were included in this review. Three studies were performed in Italy, one in Australia, three in Greece, one in Cyprus, and one in China. The BPs investigated included zoledronate, alendronate, pamidronate, clodronate, and neridronate. Zoledronate and alendronate showed a tendency to perform best as compared to neridronate and the placebo effect with respect to femoral neck, lumbar spine, total hip, and total body in terms of bone mass density (g/cm2). BPs and in particular, zolendronate, were quite effective in the treatment of osteoporosis. These findings suggested that bisphosphonates are still a front-line treatment of osteoporosis in TM. However, to draw more meaningful and significant conclusions for the use and efficacy of BP in TM, larger and more complete RCTs should be conducted.

Keywords: Bisphosphonates; Bone mineral density; Osteoporosis; Zolendronic acid; β-thalassemia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology*
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Thalassemia / complications*


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates