A double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-finding trial of intermittent nasal salmon calcitonin for prevention of postmenopausal lumbar spine bone loss

Am J Med. 1995 May;98(5):452-8. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9343(99)80344-1.


Purpose: Nasal administration of salmon calcitonin (SCT) has been suggested for preventing trabecular bone loss during the first years following the menopause, but no conclusive evidence has appeared about the minimal effective dose. Since nasal calcitonin is highly expensive, it makes sense to define this dose.

Patients and methods: We performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, single-center study with a 3-arm parallel-group design. The subjects were 251 healthy women who had experienced natural menopause within the past 6 to 72 months and were not affected by any diseases or treatments that interfere with calcium metabolism. They were randomly allocated in groups of 6 to receive intranasal SCT 50 IU (n = 84), SCT 200 IU (n = 84), or placebo (n = 83). All treatments were given on 5 consecutive days per week. Statistical analysis was based on two populations: intention-to-treat (IT) and valid completers (VC). The main assessments performed were bone mineral density of the lumbar spine (LSBMD) and biochemical parameters reflecting bone turnover (serum alkaline phosphatase, urinary calcium/creatinine, and hydroxyproline/creatinine ratios).

Results: Changes over the treatment period were comparable in the IT and VC populations. In the group receiving the placebo, LSBMD decreased from baseline to end point by a mean of 6.28% (95% confidence interval [CI] -7.69 to -4.89) in the IT population and 6.98% (95% CI -8.86 to -5.11) in the VC population (P = 0.0001, end LSBMD versus baseline LSBMD). LSBMD increased slightly with the 50-IU/d dose of SCT, by 0.82% (95% CI -0.26 to 1.89) in the IT population, and 0.51% (95% CI -0.69 to 1.72) in the VC (P = NS, versus baseline). Subjects who received SCT 200 IU/d experienced significant increases of 2.03% (95% CI 0.92 to 3.15) in the IT population and 2.26% (95% CI 1.01 to 3.51) in the VC (both P = 0.001). The difference between the evolution of the combined groups receiving nasal SCT and the group treated with the placebo was highly significant (P = 0.0001). No significant changes were recorded in biochemical parameters reflecting bone turnover.

Conclusions: SCT 50 IU/d administered nasally and intermittently appears to prevent lumbar bone loss in nonobese early postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Remodeling / drug effects
  • Calcitonin / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / urine
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyproline / urine
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / physiopathology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control*
  • Spine / drug effects*
  • Spine / physiopathology


  • salmon calcitonin
  • Calcitonin
  • Creatinine
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Hydroxyproline
  • Calcium