Purpose To analyze serum markers of bone turnover, angiogenesis, endocrine function, and inflammation in patients with bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) who discontinued long-term intravenous bisphosphonate (BP) therapy. Patients and Methods Serum samples were obtained from 25 BRONJ patients who had discontinued long-term intravenous BP therapy for an average of 11.4 ± 8.7 months and 48 non-BRONJ controls who continued receiving intravenous BP therapy. Samples were analyzed for total alkaline phosphatase, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, osteocalcin, C-telopeptide, vascular endothelial growth factor, triiodothyronine, thyroxine, thyroid-stimulating hormone, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and C-reactive protein. Results The mean number of BP infusions was significantly higher in BRONJ patients compared with controls (38.4 ± 26.3 infusions vs 18.8 ± 7.2 infusions, P <.0001); however, the duration of BP therapy was not significantly different between the groups (P =.23). Overall, there were no significant differences in any of the markers between BRONJ patients and controls (all P values ≥.16). In a subgroup analysis that matched BRONJ patients and controls according to mean age and number of BP infusions (10 BRONJ patients and 48 controls), log10 vascular endothelial growth factor (2.9 ± 0.4 pg/mL vs 2.4 ± 0.4 pg/mL, P <.001) and C-reactive protein (34 ± 26 mg/L vs 13 ± 8 mg/L, P <.01) levels were significantly higher in BRONJ patients compared with controls. Within BRONJ patients, none of the serum markers were correlated with duration of BP discontinuation. Conclusions Levels of bone turnover and endocrine markers in BRONJ patients who discontinue long-term intravenous BP therapy are similar to those in non-BRONJ controls receiving intravenous BP therapy. However, levels of angiogenesis and inflammation markers are higher in BRONJ patients who discontinue long-term intravenous BP therapy. The prolonged skeletal half-life of BPs may suppress bone turnover markers in BRONJ patients for several years after discontinuation of intravenous BP therapy, suggesting an extended effect on bone homeostasis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank all the study participants for their commitment to and support of this project. We also thank the study coordinator, Carol Dunn, at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Minneapolis, Minnesota.