UAMS Reports Bone Loss From Oral Diabetes Drug

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ — Scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) report in the journal Endocrinology that a widely used oral drug for type 2 diabetes may pose a significant risk of bone loss.

The researchers report that in a laboratory study the anti-diabetic compound rosiglitazone (known as Avandia), caused a significant decrease in total body bone mineral density, suggesting that Avandia therapy may pose a significant risk of adverse skeletal effects in humans.

"Avandia is an FDA-approved and clinically successful treatment for type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest that doctors should watch the skeletons of patients who use this drug, especially older patients, because their patients may be at increased risk of bone loss over time," said lead researcher Beata Lecka-Czernik, Ph.D., a molecular and cell biologist.

An estimated 16 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, which results from insulin resistance, a condition in which the body does not properly use insulin, along with relative insulin deficiency. The disease typically develops in people over the age of 40. Rosiglitazone, a very effective anti-diabetic agent that reduces insulin resistance, has had federal approval since 1999.

The National Institute on Aging funded the research at UAMS with a five-year, $925,000 grant. Physiologists and endocrinologists Larry J. Suva, Ph.D., and Dana Gaddy, Ph.D., are co-investigators. Lecka-Czernik is a member of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics and Suva and Gaddy are members of the faculty of the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Physiology and Biophysics, all in the UAMS College of Medicine. All three researchers are members of the Arkansas Cancer Research Center at UAMS. S. O. Rzonca and D. C. Montague, research assistants who conducted the experiment and technical analyses, are co-authors of the article in Endocrinology.

The UAMS scientists used micro-computed tomography to analyze the bones of healthy mice that received doses of rosiglitazone over seven weeks. The doses that mice received were the same doses mice received in earlier studies that demonstrated the compound's effectiveness for type 2 diabetes. The researchers next plan to test the effects of the drug on mice and rats with diabetes. Lecka-Czernik also has a grant for the follow-up study of $300,000
for three years from the American Diabetes Association.

A gift of $288,000 from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust in 2002 enabled UAMS to purchase the sophisticated bone analysis equipment used in the study.

The journal Endocrinology is published by The Endocrine Society. UAMS is the leading biomedical research institution in Arkansas and the home of the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging as well as the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics.

SOURCE: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
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