Bisphosphonates (BPs) are characterized by their ability to bind strongly to bone mineral and inhibit bone resorption. However, BPs exert a wide range of pharmacological activities beyond the inhibition of bone resorption, including the inhibition of cancer cell metastases and angiogenesis and the inhibition of proliferation and apoptosis in vitro. Additionally, the inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity, altered cytokine and growth factor expression, as well as reductions in parameters of pain have also been reported. In humans, clinical BP use has transformed the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis, rare bone diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta, as well as multiple myeloma and metastatic breast and prostate cancer, albeit not without infrequent but significant adverse events. Despite the well-characterized health benefits of BP use in humans, the evidence-base for the therapeutic efficacy of BPs in veterinary medicine is, by comparison, limited. Notwithstanding, BPs are used widely in small animal veterinary practice for the medical management of hyperparathyroidism, idiopathic hypercalcemia in cats, as well as for the palliative care of bone tumors which are common in dogs, and in particular, primary bone tumors such as osteosarcoma. Palliative BP treatment has also recently increased in veterinary oncology to alleviate tumor-associated bone pain. In equine veterinary practice, non-nitrogen-containing BPs are FDA-approved to control clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in adult horses. However, there are growing concerns regarding the off-label use of BPs in juvenile horses. Here we discuss the current understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and current controversies surrounding BP use in veterinary medicine to highlight the future utility of these potentially beneficial drugs.
Keywords: Bisphosphonates; Navicular disease; One Health; Veterinary medicine.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.