Long-term survivors of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) are at risk for loss of bone mineral density (BMD) and subsequent osteoporosis. There is a lack of clear guidelines for the screening, prevention and treatment of bone loss after HCT. We reviewed the prevailing literature and provide guidelines developed by our center for the screening and management of this complication. Bone loss occurs predominantly within the first 6-12 months after autologous and allogeneic HCT. Recovery first occurs in the lumbar spine and is followed by a slower recovery of BMD in the femoral neck. BMD may not return to baseline levels in patients with continuing exposure to corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors. All HCT recipients should be advised general interventions to reduce fracture risk including adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D. We recommend screening all adult allogeneic and autologous HCT recipients with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry 1 year after transplantation. Patients at high risk for bone loss (for example, patients receiving 5 ≥mg of prednisone equivalent daily for >3 months) can be screened earlier (for example, 3-6 months after HCT). Where indicated, bisphosphonates or other anti-resorptive agents (for example, calcitonin) can be used for prevention or treatment of osteoporosis in adult HCT recipients. Pediatric HCT recipients should be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist for evaluation and treatment of bone loss. There remain several areas of uncertainty that need further research in adult and pediatric HCT recipients, such as the optimal timing and frequency of screening for loss of bone mineral density, relationship of bone loss with risk of fractures, selection of appropriate patients for pharmacologic therapy, and optimal dosing schedule and duration of therapy with anti-resorptive agents.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Linda J Burns has received research funding from Novartis Pharmaceuticals for a clinical trial of zoledronic acid in hematopoietic cell transplant recipients. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.
- allogeneic transplant
- autologous transplant
- bone loss
- hematopoietic cell transplantation