Parathyroid Hormone and Bone Healing
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- Ellegaard, M., Jørgensen, N.R. & Schwarz, P. Calcif Tissue Int (2010) 87: 1. doi:10.1007/s00223-010-9360-5
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Fracture healing is a complex process, and a significant number of fractures are complicated by impaired healing and non-union. Impaired healing is prevalent in certain risk groups, such as the elderly, osteoporotics, people with malnutrition, and women after menopause. Currently, no pharmacological treatments are available. There is therefore an unmet need for medications that can stimulate bone healing. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is the first bone anabolic drug approved for the treatment of osteoporosis, and intriguingly a number of animal studies suggest that PTH could be beneficial in the treatment of fractures and could thus be a potentially new treatment option for induction of fracture healing in humans. Furthermore, fractures in animals with experimental conditions of impaired healing such as aging, estrogen withdrawal, and malnutrition can heal in an expedited manner after PTH treatment. Interestingly, fractures occurring at both cancellous and cortical sites can be treated successfully, indicating that both osteoporotic and nonosteoporotic fractures can be the target of PTH-induced healing. Finally, the data suggest that PTH partly prevents the delay in fracture healing caused by aging. Recently, the first randomized, controlled clinical trial investigating the effect of PTH on fracture healing was published, indicating a possible clinical benefit of PTH treatment in inducing fracture healing. The aim of this article is therefore to review the evidence for the potential of PTH in bone healing, including the underlying mechanisms for this, and to provide recommendations for the clinical testing and use of PTH in the treatment of impaired fracture healing in humans.