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Could Alzheimer´s drug help prevent bone fractures?

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A new study has found that a drug commonly used to treat Alzheimer´s disease increases bone mass in mice. The research potentially opens up a promising new treatment option for bone loss diseases like osteoporosis and periodontitis.

Japanese researchers investigated the effects of the drug, donepezil, after retrospective clinical studies suggested that patients being treated with the drug for Alzheimer´s disease had a lower risk of hip fracture, with the risk dependent on the dose they were taking.

Reporting their findings in the new open access journal Heliyon, the scientists pointed out that in the early stages of Alzheimer´s disease bone density decreases, putting patients at a higher risk of bone fractures.

Their study showed, however, that in mice donepezil prevents bone loss by suppressing bone resorption. This suggests that treating Alzheimer´s disease with donepezil not only improves cognitive function but also increases bone density, reducing the risk of fractures.

“We think that donepezil can improve cognitive function and increase bone mass, making it a very useful drug for patients with dementia and osteoporosis,” commented lead author Dr. Tsuyoshi Sato, associate professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Saitama Medical University in Japan.

“From the viewpoint of medical economics, this dual purpose could reduce the cost of treating these diseases.”

Next, the researchers plan to work with the Department of Neurology at Saitama Medical University on clinical research. They want to study whether taking donepezil reduces patients´ risk of bone fracture by looking at its effect in a group of patients compared to a control group.