Recent reviews by the clinical bone research community suggest caution with prescription of drug holidays for patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO) treated with denosumab for an extended period of time. Main reasons for this suggestion are based on the fact that discontinuation of denosumab treatment leads to a relapse of osteoclastic bone resorption and a loss of bone mineral density (BMD) to pre-treatment levels at only 12-28 months. The question remains what is the best treatment option for cases where it is required to discontinue and/or reduce the drug dose and what are the consequences on BMD and bone turnover markers (BTMs). The latter questions are difficult to be addressed using clinical trials alone given the large number of parameter combinations involved to answer this problem. In this paper, we apply a recently developed in silico mechanistic pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic (PK-PD) model of the effect of denosumab on bone remodelling in PMO. To address the above clinical relevant questions, we design a wide range of current and virtual treatment regimens to study the effect of drug holiday duration and therapy resumption on the evolution of BTMs, BMD and mineral content. Our numerical simulation results indicate the symptomatic effect of denosumab, which is lost once treatment is stopped. This effect is most clearly seen on rapid loss of BMD to pre-treatment levels 12 months after the last injection (8% and 3.6% per year in the lumbar spine and femoral neck, respectively). Also, we identify that independently of the duration of drug holiday (i.e. 12, 16 or 18 months) resuming treatment can restore BMD quite effectively. However, the latter result does not consider the possibility of potential fractures that can occur during the drug holiday. Finally, we identify a treatment case most promising for achieving maintenance of BMD and mineral content, while moderately increasing BTMs. The latter case uses no drug holiday, but reduces the most commonly prescribed denosumab dose (60 mg every 6 months) by half at same interval.
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