Osteoporosis International

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 763–770

The effects of organic nitrates on osteoporosis: a systematic review



Current treatments for osteoporosis are limited by lack of effect on cortical bone, side effects, and, in some cases, cost. Organic nitrates, which act as nitric oxide donors, may be a potential alternative. This systematic review summarizes the clinical data that reports on the effects of organic nitrates and bone. Organic nitrates, which act as nitric oxide donors, are novel agents that have several advantages over the currently available treatments for osteoporosis. This systematic review summarizes the clinical data that reports on the effects of organic nitrates on bone. We searched Medline (1966 to November 2012), EMBASE (1980 to November 2012), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Issue 11, 2012). Keywords included nitrates, osteoporosis, bone mineral density (BMD), and fractures. We identified 200 citations. Of these, a total of 29 were retrieved for more detailed evaluation and we excluded 19 manuscripts: 15 because they did not present original data and four because they did not provide data on the intervention or outcome of interest. As such, we included ten studies in literature review. Of these ten studies two were observational cohort studies reporting nitrate use was associated with increased BMD; two were case control studies reporting that use of nitrates were associated with lower risk of hip fracture; two were randomized controlled trials (RCT) comparing alendronate to organic nitrates for treatment of postmenopausal women and demonstrating that both agents increased lumbar spine BMD. The two largest RCT with the longest follow-up, both of which compared effects of organic nitrates to placebo on BMD in women without osteoporosis, reported conflicting results. Headaches were the most common adverse event among women taking nitrates. No studies have reported on fracture efficacy. Further research is needed before recommending organic nitrates for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.


Bone mineral density Nitric oxide Organic nitrates Osteoporosis Treatment 

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Women’s College Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Women’s College HospitalUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Exercise SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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