Bone as an effect compartment: Models for uptake and release of drugs

David Stepensky, Lilach Kleinberg, Amnon Hoffman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


'Bone-seeking agents' are drugs characterised by high affinity for bone, and are disposed in bone for prolonged periods of time while maintaining remarkably low systemic concentrations. As a consequence, the bone becomes a reservoir for bone-seeking agents, and a site of both desirable and adverse effects, depending on the pharmacological activities of the specific agent. For some agents, significant systemic effects may also be produced following their prolonged release from bone, a process that is governed mostly by the rate of bone remodelling. This review covers the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic features of bone-seeking agents with different pharmacological properties, including drugs (bisphosphonates, drug-bisphosphonate conjugates, radiopharmaceuticals and fluoride), bone markers (tetracycline, bone imaging agents) and toxins (lead, chromium, aluminium). In addition, drugs that do not possess bone-seeking properties but are used for therapy of bone diseases (such as antibacterials for treatment of osteomyelitis) are discussed, along with targeting of these drugs to the bone by conjugation to bone-seeking agents, local delivery systems, and other approaches. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic behaviour of bone-seeking agents is extremely complex due to heterogeneity in bone morphology and physiology. This complexity, accompanied by difficulties in human bone research caused by ethical and other limitations, gave rise to modelling approaches to study bone drug disposition. This review describes the pharmacokinetic models that have been proposed to describe the pharmacokinetic behaviour of bone-seeking agents and predict bone concentrations of these agents for different doses and patient populations. Models of different types (compartmental and physiologically based) and of different complexity have been applied, but their relevance to drug effects in the bone tissue is limited since they describe the behaviour of the 'average' drug molecule. Understanding of the cellular and molecular processes responsible for the heterogeneity of bone tissue will provide better comprehension of the influence of microenvironment on drug bone disposition and the resulting pharmacological response.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)863-881
Number of pages19
JournalClinical Pharmacokinetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2003


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