1. The histological effects of deferoxamine therapy were assessed on transiliac bone biopsies taken after double tetracycline labelling from 16 uraemic patients undergoing chronic haemodialysis, all having aluminium deposits in bone. Eight patients had osteomalacia, five had an ‘aplastic’ bone lesion and three a high bone turnover with a marked increase in osteoid volume.
2. Deferoxamine was administered intravenously once a week at doses ranging from 1 to 6 g for a mean duration of 7.6 ± 3.3 (sd) months.
3. Deferoxamine therapy was associated with significant reductions in stainable aluminium deposits, osteoid volume, osteoid surfaces and thickness index of osteoid seams. The osteoblastic osteoid surfaces as well as the bone formation rates also increased significantly.
4. A rise in resorption parameters and in serum parathyroid hormone levels was observed in patients with osteomalacia. The percentage reductions in stainable aluminium and in osteoid volume were correlated with the degree of hyperparathyroidism.
5. These data show that deferoxamine therapy reduces stainable bone aluminium and improves bone mineralization in low turnover osteomalacia and that the presence of hyperparathyroidism is associated with an increased response to deferoxamine therapy.