Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor therapy in late-life depression is associated with increased marker of bone resorption
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Antidepressants are associated with bone loss and fractures in older adults. We treated depressed older adults with an antidepressant and examined its effects on bone turnover by comparing blood samples before and after treatment. Bone resorption increased after antidepressant treatment, which may increase fracture risk.
Antidepressants have been associated with increased bone loss and fractures in older adults in observational studies, but the mechanism is unclear. We examined the effects of a serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, venlafaxine, on biomarkers of bone turnover in a prospective treatment study of late-life depression.
Seventy-six individuals aged 60 years and older with current major depressive disorder received a 12-week course of venlafaxine XR 150–300 mg daily. We measured serum C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type I collagen (β-CTX) and N-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen (P1NP), measures of bone resorption and formation, respectively, before and after treatment. We then analyzed the change in β-CTX and P1NP within each participant. Venlafaxine levels were measured at the end of the study. We assessed depression severity at baseline and remission status after treatment.
After 12 weeks of venlafaxine, β-CTX increased significantly, whereas P1NP did not significantly change. The increase in β-CTX was significant only in participants whose depression did not remit (increase by 10 % in non-remitters vs. 4 % in remitters). Change in β-CTX was not correlated with serum levels of venlafaxine or norvenlafaxine.
Our findings suggest that the primary effect of serotonergic antidepressants is to increase bone resorption. However, such an increase in bone resorption seemed to depend on whether or not participants’ depression remitted. Our results are in agreement with prior observational studies reporting increased bone loss in older adults taking serotonergic antidepressants. These negative effects on bone homeostasis could potentially contribute to increased fracture risk in older adults.