BACKGROUND/AIMS: In a randomized controlled clinical trial in kidney transplant recipients (NCT01377467) we have recently shown that RANKL inhibition with denosumab significantly improved areal bone mineral density (aBMD) when given during the first year after transplantation. The effect of denosumab on skeletal microstructure and bone strength in kidney transplant recipients is not known.
METHODS: The purpose of the present bone microarchitecture ancillary study was to investigate high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) data from the distal tibia and distal radius in 24 study patients that had been randomized to receive either two injections of denosumab 60 mg at baseline and after 6 months (n=10) or no treatment (n=14).
RESULTS: Consistent with the full trial findings, denosumab reduced biomarkers of bone turnover, and significantly increased aBMD at the lumbar spine (median difference of 4.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6 - 7.8; p<0.001). Bone quality as assessed by total and cortical volumetric bone mineral density (Tot. vBMD, Ct.vBMD) and cortical thickness (Ct.Th) increased significantly at the tibia, while changes at the radius were less pronounced. The trabecular volumetric BMD (Tb.vBMD), thickness (Tb. Th), separation (Tb.Sp) and number (Tb.N) and the cortical porosity (Ct.Po) at the tibia and the radius did not significantly change in both treatment groups. Micro-finite element analysis (µFEA) showed that bone stiffness increased significantly at the tibia (median difference 5.6%; 95% CI 1.8% - 9.2%; p=0.002) but not at the radius (median difference 2.9%, 95% CI -3.7% - 9.1%; p=0.369). Likewise, failure load increased significantly at the tibia (median difference 5.1%; 95% CI 2.1% - 8.1%; p=0.002) but not at the radius (median difference 2.4%, 95% CI -3.2% - 8.5%; p=0.336).
CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that denosumab improves bone density and bone quality in first-year kidney transplant recipients at risk to develop osteoporosis.