The assessment of regional skeletal metabolism: studies of osteoporosis treatments using quantitative radionuclide imaging

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Studies of bone remodeling using bone biopsy and biochemical markers of bone turnover play an important role in research studies to investigate the effect of new osteoporosis treatments on bone quality. Quantitative radionuclide imaging using either positron emission tomography with fluorine-18 sodium fluoride or gamma camera studies with technetium-99m methylene diphosphonate provides a novel tool for studying bone metabolism that complements conventional methods, such as bone turnover markers (BTMs). Unlike BTMs, which measure the integrated response to treatment across the whole skeleton, radionuclide imaging can distinguish the changes occurring at sites of particular clinical interest, such as the spine or proximal femur. Radionuclide imaging can be used to measure either bone uptake or (if done in conjunction with blood sampling) bone plasma clearance. Although the latter is more complicated to perform, unlike bone uptake, it provides a measurement that is specific to the bone metabolic activity at the measurement site. Treatment with risedronate was found to cause a decrease in bone plasma clearance, whereas treatment with the bone anabolic agent teriparatide caused an increase. Studies of teriparatide are of particular interest because the treatment has different effects at different sites in the skeleton, with a substantially greater response in the flat bone of the skull and cortical bone in the femur compared with the lumbar spine. Future studies should include investigations of osteonecrosis of the jaw and atypical fractures of the femur to examine the associated regional changes in bone metabolism and to throw light on the underlying pathologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263 - 271
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Gamma Cameras
  • Bone and Bones
  • Etidronic Acid
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Teriparatide
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Humans
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate


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