Bisphosphonates for the treatment of fibrous dysplasia of bone

Bone. 2021 Feb:143:115784. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2020.115784. Epub 2020 Dec 2.


Introduction: Fibrous dysplasia of bone (FD) is a rare congenital bone disease, due to a somatic mutation of GNAS. This mutation results in a defect of osteoblast differentiation and mineralization and also an increase in bone resorption by large active osteoclasts. Bone pain is present in half of patients and is the main determinant of quality of life of patients with FD. Bisphosphonates are known to reduce bone pain and reduce the risk of fracture in patients with bone metastases or Paget's disease. Bisphosphonates may have similar effects in FD. In this article, we have reviewed the therapeutic potential of bisphosphonates to reduce bone pain due to FD, improve bone strength and reduce the occurrence of fracture.

Material and methods: We have reviewed 234 articles examining the effect of bisphosphonates on FD/McCune Albright Syndrome with no date limit, in PubMed and selected the articles with highest quality of methodology.

Results: Pamidronate therapy significantly decreased bone pain and bone resorption (urinary NTX, urinary and serum CTX). Pamidronate may improve radiological lesions of FD patients (filling of osteolytic lesion and/or cortical thickening). This data with intravenous pamidronate, however, has been obtained from observational studies and no randomized controlled trial is available. Randomized placebo-controlled trials of oral bisphosphonates (alendronate or risedronate) have failed to demonstrate a significant decrease in bone pain over placebo. Several studies including one randomized controlled trial have shown an increase in bone mineral density (BMD) at FD sites with oral and intravenous bisphosphonate treatment. No effect on occurrence of fracture has been reported.

Conclusion: In conclusion, intravenous bisphosphonates may be proposed to treat persistent, moderate to severe bone pain of FD, e.g., according to the guidelines from the FD/MAS International Consortium. Oral bisphosphonates should not be used in this indication.

Keywords: Bisphosphonates; Bone pain; Fibrous dysplasia of bone; Fracture; McCune-Albright syndrome; Pamidronate.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones
  • Diphosphonates* / therapeutic use
  • Fibrous Dysplasia of Bone* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Pamidronate
  • Quality of Life


  • Diphosphonates
  • Pamidronate