Hypocalcemia and Bone Mineral Density Changes Following Denosumab Treatment in End-Stage Renal Disease Patients: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

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The incidence of hypocalcemia and bone mineral density (BMD) changes in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients on denosumab remains unclear. We performed this meta-analysis to assess the incidence of denosumab-associated hypocalcemia and effects of denosumab on BMD in ESRD patients. A literature search was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Database from inception through November 2017 to identify studies evaluating incidence of denosumab-associated hypocalcemia and changes in serum calcium, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), parathyroid hormone (PTH), and BMD from baseline to post-treatment course of denosumab in ESRD patients. Study results were pooled and analyzed using a random-effect model. The protocol for this meta-analysis is registered with PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews; no. CRD42017081074). Six observational studies with a total of 84 ESRD patients were enrolled. The pooled estimated incidence of hypocalcemia during denosumab treatment was 42% (95% CI 29–55%, I2 = 0%). Hypocalcemia occurred approximately 7 to 20 days after the first dose and reached nadir of low calcium levels in the first 2 weeks up to 2 months. However, there were no significant changes in serum calcium or phosphate from baseline to post-treatment course (≥ 3 months after treatment) with mean differences [MDs] of 0.20 mg/dL (95% CI, − 0.30 to 0.69 mg/dL) and − 0.10 mg/dL (95% CI, − 0.70 to 0.49 mg/dL). There were significant reductions in ALP and PTH levels with standardized mean differences (SMDs) of − 0.65 (95% CI − 1.13 to − 0.16) and − 1.89 (95% CI − 3.44 to − 0.34), respectively. There were significant increases in T-scores with MDs of 0.39 (95% CI 0.10 to 0.69) and 0.79 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.98) for lumbar spine and femoral neck, respectively. Our study demonstrates the estimated incidence of denosumab-associated hypocalcemia in dialysis patients of 42%. From baseline to post-treatment course, although there are no differences in serum calcium and phosphate, our findings suggest significant reductions in ALP and PTH and a significant increase in BMD. Currently, denosumab should not be considered as the treatment of choice in ESRD patients until more safety and efficacy data are available.