Research Article

Treatment of osteoporosis with human parathyroid peptide and observations on effect of sodium fluoride.

BMJ 1990; 301 doi: (Published 11 August 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;301:314
  1. J Reeve,
  2. U M Davies,
  3. R Hesp,
  4. E McNally,
  5. D Katz
  1. Department of Radiology, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow.


    OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the need for a randomised study of treatment of spinal osteoporosis with human parathyroid peptide in the secondary prevention of crush fractures; to study the effect of human parathyroid hormone peptide 1-34 plus sex hormones on vertebral body cancellous bone; and, separately, to determine the effect of relatively low doses of sodium fluoride plus calcium on spinal bone mineral density. DESIGN--Open study of patients with primary or postmenopausal osteoporosis. All patients had serial bone densitometry of the spine by quantitative computed tomography and dual photon absorptiometry as well as serial densitometry of the radial midshaft (cortical) and radial distal (trabecular) bone by quantitative computed tomography. Changes in the spinal bone not forming the spongiosa of the vertebral bodies ("cortical" bone) were determined from the difference between the two axial measurements, after correction to the same units of measurement. SETTING--Northwick Park Hospital and Medical Research Council Clinical Research Centre. PATIENTS--24 Patients who fulfilled the conventional criteria for type 1 (vertebral) osteoporosis not secondary to recognised causes other than sex hormone deficiency and with at least one crush or wedge vertebral fracture and a spinal bone density (quantitative computed tomography) less than 80 mg/cm3 or two or more fractures. Twelve patients received human parathyroid peptide and 12 sodium fluoride; they were not randomised. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Trends in axial and peripheral bone mass values determined by linear, time dependent regression analyses. RESULTS--The patients receiving the peptide showed a substantial increase in vertebral spongiosa (mean 25.6 mg/cm2 two years after the start of treatment). No significant changes were seen in spinal cortical or radial bone density. The patients receiving sodium fluoride showed roughly equal increases in cancellous and cortical bone over the same period (mean increase in vertebral spongiosa 16.1 mg/cm3). No significant changes were seen in radial bone. CONCLUSIONS--Treatment of postmenopausal women with human parathyroid peptide selectively increases spinal cancellous bone density by amounts that may prove useful in secondary prevention. Peptide treatment should now be tested in a randomised study in which the important end point is prevention of fractures as the usefulness of sodium fluoride in this context is doubtful.