Nonsteroid immune modulators and bone disease

Ronald Tamler, Solomon Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoids have been the main agents for preventing organ rejection, but unfortunately they possess serious side effects. Newer immunosuppressive agents have therefore been introduced to overcome these effects and have had a dramatic impact on reducing the incidence of organ rejection, enhancing donor organ acceptance, and hence patient survival posttransplantation. However, calcineurin inhibitors (CIs), such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus, also have serious effects causing rapid and severe bone loss in animal models and humans. The mechanism accounting for this action is unclear at present, but the role of T lymphocyte action via RANKL seems to be of essence in triggering bone loss. The mechanism is complex and in vitro studies often produce results that are opposite to those seen in vivo. In addition to acute, rapid, and severe bone loss (ARSBL), the clinical picture shows an extremely high incidence of fractures at all sites, and depends upon the organ transplanted, preexisting bone disease, interval before transplantation, and the dose and duration of multiple immunosuppressive drugs. Other immune-modifying drugs, such as azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, and sirolimus, which are used in conjunction with glucocorticoids and CIs have not been shown to promote bone loss experimentally or clinically. With the exception of glucocorticoids, all of the agents discussed here demand further investigation with regard to their effects on bone health in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-296
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Bone loss
  • Calcineurin inhibitors
  • Cyclosporine
  • Fracture
  • Immunosuppressive agents
  • Organ transplantation
  • Tacrolimus


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