Treatment of Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis with Alfacalcidol/Calcium Versus Vitamin D/Calcium
Vitamin D/calcium substitution is generally regarded as an effective first step treatment for glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP). The aim of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of the active vitamin D metabolite alfacalcidol (1α) compared with the native vitamin D3 in patients with established GIOP with or without vertebral fractures. Patients on long-term corticoid therapy were given either 1 μg alfacalcidol plus 500 mg calcium per day (group A, n = 43) or 1000 IU vitamin D3 plus 500 mg calcium (group B, n = 42). The two groups were alike in age range, sex ratio, percentages of underlying diseases, average initial bone density values (lumbar spine: mean T-score −3.28 and −3.25, respectively), and rates of vertebral and nonvertebral fractures. During the 3-year study we found a small but significant increase of lumbar spine density in group 1α (+2.0%, P < 0.0001) and no significant changes at the femoral neck. In the D3 group, there were no significant changes at both sites. At the end of the study, 12 new vertebral fractures had occurred in 10 patients of the group 1α and 21 in 17 patients of the D3 group. In accordance with the observed fracture rates, the alfacalcidol group showed a significant decrease in back pain (P < 0.0001) whereas no change was seen in the vitamin D group. We conclude that with the doses used in this trial, alfacalcidol is superior to vitamin D in the treatment of established GIOP.
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