Risk for infections during treatment with denosumab for osteoporosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Talia Diker-Cohen*, Dana Rosenberg, Tomer Avni, Daniel Shepshelovich, Gloria Tsvetov, Anat Gafter-Gvili

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Context: Denosumab inhibits the receptor activator of nuclear factor κ-Β ligand, an immune system modulator. Safety endpoints including risk for infections were assessed as secondary outcomes in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the drug. Objective: To assess the risk of serious adverse events of infections (SAEI) in denosumab-treated patients. Data Sources: PubMed and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched up to May 27, 2019. Study Selection: All RCTs of denosumab (60 mg every 6 months) versus any comparator were included. We excluded trials in cancer patients for prevention of skeletal-related events. Data Extraction: Two reviewers independently applied selection criteria and extracted the data. Risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were pooled using a fixed effect model. Sensitivity analysis was based on risk of bias. Data Synthesis: Thirty-three studies (22 253 patients) were included. There was a higher incidence of SAEI during denosumab treatment versus any comparator (RR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.04-1.40; I2 = 0%), mainly of ear, nose, and throat (RR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.20-5.91) and gastrointestinal origin (RR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.02-2.01). RR was similar in a sensitivity analysis based on adequate allocation concealment. The RR of any infection (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.99-1.06) and infection-related mortality (RR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.20-1.23) was comparable between groups. Conclusions: A higher incidence of SAEI is demonstrated during treatment with denosumab in an osteoporosis dose. Nevertheless, the overall risk for any infection or related mortality is similar to comparator groups. These findings merit consideration before therapy initiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdgz322
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2020


  • Adverse events
  • Anti RANK ligand
  • Denosumab
  • Meta-analysis
  • Osteoporosis


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