Emerging insights into the comparative effectiveness of anabolic therapies for osteoporosis.

Document Type


Publication Date



Maine Medical Center Research Institute

Journal Title

Nat Rev Endocrinol

MeSH Headings

Osteoporosis, Testosterone Congeners


Over the past three decades, the mainstay of treatment for osteoporosis has been antiresorptive agents (such as bisphosphonates), which have been effective with continued administration in lowering fracture risk. However, the clinical landscape has changed as adherence to these medications has declined due to perceived adverse effects. As a result, decreases in hip fracture rates that followed the introduction of bisphosphonates have now levelled off, which is coincident with a decline in the use of the antiresorptive agents. In the past two decades, two types of anabolic agents (including three new drugs), which represent a novel approach to improving bone quality by increasing bone formation, have been approved. These therapies are expected to lead to a new clinical paradigm in which anabolic agents will be used either alone or in combination with antiresorptive agents to build new bone and reduce fracture risk. This Review examines the mechanisms of action for these anabolic agents by detailing their receptor-activating properties for key cell types in the bone and marrow niches. Using these advances in bone biology as context, the comparative effectiveness of these anabolic agents is discussed in relation to other therapeutic options for osteoporosis to better guide their clinical application in the future.