Is the Use of Bisphosphonates Putting Horses at Risk? An Osteoclast Perspective

Animals (Basel). 2022 Jul 3;12(13):1722. doi: 10.3390/ani12131722.


Osteoclasts are unique and vital bone cells involved in bone turnover. These cells are active throughout the individual's life and play an intricate role in growth and remodeling. However, extra-label bisphosphonate use may impair osteoclast function, which could result in skeletal microdamage and impaired healing without commonly associated pain, affecting bone remodeling, fracture healing, and growth. These effects could be heightened when administered to growing and exercising animals. Bisphosphonates (BPs) are unevenly distributed in the skeleton; blood supply and bone turnover rate determine BPs uptake in bone. Currently, there is a critical gap in scientific knowledge surrounding the biological impacts of BP use in exercising animals under two years old. This may have significant welfare ramifications for growing and exercising equids. Therefore, future research should investigate the effects of these drugs on skeletally immature horses.

Keywords: analgesic; anti-inflammatory; bisphosphonates; bone; equine; exercise; juvenile; osteoclast; resorption.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This review received no external funding.