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Alzheimer’s disease medication may have benefits in the treatment of osteoporosis

Principal Investigator: Clinical Professor Charles Anoopkumar Inderjeeth

Osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease are two devastating conditions that often occurring together in an ageing population. According to recent data from Alzheimer’s Australia, 1 person every 6 minutes will be affected by dementia. Whereas Osteoporosis Australia published that 1 person every 3.6 minutes in Australia experience fracture, largely due to osteoporosis and poor bone health.

Osteoporosis (loss of bone strength and density) is often observed in aged patients with Alzheimer’s disease, though the association between these two diseases remains poorly understood. Previous research has shown that low bone mass density (BMD) appears to be related to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease [2]. It has also been found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease have increased expression of marker genes for bone turnover. A recent study reported that separate treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with two currently approved AChEI for mild to moderate progression of the disease, was associated with lower rates of hip fracture in aged patients. Thus we propose to examine the mechanism of action in which these drugs play, to not only manage symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s diseases but also potentially to manage symptoms of osteoporosis.

Our study will have important implications for osteoporosis management in older populations with osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Agents that have the dual benefit to both ageing bone (senile osteoporosis) and ageing brain (dementia) are useful for the future therapeutic strategy to improve compliance and to reduce polypharmacy. Furthermore, the result of this study will be beneficial to ease the economic burden on the Australian health care system. Our study will provide insight into the mechanisms of which the different acetylcholinesterases affect the bone cells. This may influence the future drug choice in elderly who are affected by both Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. Hence, the role of Acetylcholinesterase in bone homeostasis should be explored further.