A single dose of the drug zoledronic acid was found to inhibit bone loss that is common in HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to results of a phase two clinical trial. “We are encouraged that our protocol was able to prevent bone loss in HIV patients on ART therapy,” said study co-author Igho Ofotokun, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, US.
“These effects occurred early and last through 48 weeks, which is the period when ART-induced bone loss is most intense,” Ofotokun noted. The findings were presented at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, US. The researchers studied HIV positive individuals, aged 30 to 50 years, who did not have osteoporosis, a disease that causes bone to become weak and brittle, and had no history of immunological disease other than HIV.
The researchers assessed 343 individuals for eligibility, and 63 were selected and randomised to receive either ART and placebo, or ART and zoledronic acid. Treatment with zoledronic acid was associated with a 73 percent and a 65 percent reduction in bone loss relative to placebo at 12 weeks and 24 weeks respectively, an effect that lasted throughout the 48 weeks of the study.
Enhanced bone loss was seen in almost all participants in the placebo arm of the study, while no participant in the treatment arm had an appreciable rise in bone loss. Bone loss was higher in men compared to women in the placebo arm, and the protection against bone loss was higher in men than in women in the treatment arm. Treatment did not impact the rate of viral suppression or immunologic response, the study said.