A Med for Denser Bones in Crohn’s Patients

Risedronate with supplements increased bone density in Crohns disease patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Fractures and weak bones are common in patients with Crohn’s disease. So researchers recently set out to find out what happens when these patients take bone-protecting medicines early on.

These researchers found that taking a certain bone density medicine with calcium and vitamin D supplements made lower backbones denser in Crohn’s disease patients.

According to the findings in this study, patients with frail bones and Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that causes pain and discomfort — might improve their bone density early on with weekly risedronate.

"Talk to a gastroenterologist about complications of Crohn's disease."

This study, which was led by Ad A van Bodegraven, MD, PhD, consultant and gastroenterologist in the Department of Gastroenterology at VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, aimed to see whether taking risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia) improved bone density in patients with Crohn's disease and bone loss.

Risedronate helps prevent or treat osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. Crohn's patients often cannot absorb enough vitamins and minerals from food because of their condition.

The study included 131 patients from the Netherlands with Crohn’s disease who were divided into one of two groups. 

About half the participants received 35 milligrams of risedronate and the rest received a fake pill, or placebo, to take once weekly for two years.

All patients were also given calcium and vitamin D supplements. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew who was receiving which kind of treatment.

The researchers tracked patients' disease characteristics, activities and bone turnover markers, which show bone growth and formation, during follow-up visits after the first three months of treatment and then biannually.

Patients also had their bone density measured at the start of the study and after one and two years. Radiographs of the spine were taken at the start of the study and at the two-year mark.

The researchers found that bone density increased more in patients who took the risedronate than in patients who had the placebo.

In the risedronate patients, bone density in the lower part of their spines increased by 0.04 grams per square centimeter on average.

Bone density only increased by 0.01 grams per centimeter on average among the patients given the placebo.

Changes in the concentration of bone turnover markers were more consistent in patients who took risedronate compared to those who took the placebo.

The researchers also found that the average number and type of fractures was similar for both groups.

The effects of risedronate were most prominent during the first year of treatment, according to the researchers.

“Risedronate treatment was well tolerated, not influencing disease activity, and its use was not associated with severe adverse events,” the researchers wrote in their report.

This study, funded by the Alliance for Better Bone Health, was published October 21 in the journal Gut. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
November 4, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013