Determining the pharmacologic window of bisphosphonates that mitigates severe injury-induced osteoporosis and muscle calcification, while preserving fracture repair

Osteoporos Int. 2022 Apr;33(4):807-820. doi: 10.1007/s00198-021-06208-7. Epub 2021 Oct 31.


Following severe injury, biomineralization is disrupted and limited therapeutic options exist to correct these pathologic changes. This study utilized a clinically relevant murine model of polytrauma including a severe injury with concomitant musculoskeletal injuries to identify when bisphosphonate administration can prevent the paradoxical decrease of biomineralization in bone and increased biomineralization in soft tissues, yet not interfere with musculoskeletal repair.

Introduction: Systemic and intrinsic mechanisms in bone and soft tissues help promote biomineralization to the skeleton, while preventing it in soft tissues. However, severe injury can disrupt this homeostatic biomineralization tropism, leading to adverse patient outcomes due to a paradoxical decrease of biomineralization in bone and increased biomineralization in soft tissues. There remains a need for therapeutics that restore the natural tropism of biomineralization in severely injured patients. Bisphosphonates can elicit potent effects on biomineralization, though with variable impact on musculoskeletal repair. Thus, a critical clinical question remains as to the optimal time to initiate bisphosphonate therapy in patients following a polytrauma, in which bone and muscle are injured in combination with a severe injury, such as a burn.

Methods: To test the hypothesis that the dichotomous effects of bisphosphonates are dependent upon the time of administration relative to the ongoing biomineralization in reparative bone and soft tissues, this study utilized murine models of isolated injury or polytrauma with a severe injury, in conjunction with sensitive, longitudinal measure of musculoskeletal repair.

Results: This study demonstrated that if administered at the time of injury, bisphosphonates prevented severe injury-induced bone loss and soft tissue calcification, but did not interfere with bone repair or remodeling. However, if administered between 7 and 21 days post-injury, bisphosphonates temporally and spatially localized to sites of active biomineralization, leading to impaired fracture callus remodeling and permanence of soft tissue calcification.

Conclusion: There is a specific pharmacologic window following polytrauma that bisphosphonates can prevent the consequences of dysregulated biomineralization, yet not impair musculoskeletal regeneration.

Keywords: Bisphosphonate; Fracture; Osteoporosis; Polytrauma; Severe injury; Skeletal muscle calcification.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bony Callus
  • Diphosphonates / adverse effects
  • Fractures, Bone* / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Muscles
  • Osteoporosis* / drug therapy


  • Diphosphonates