, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 305-308

Malabsorption of calcium in corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis

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We have examined the relation between radiocalcium absorption and serum 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D [1,25(OH)2D3] levels in a set of 60 postmenopausal women on corticosteroid therapy (29 with and 31 without vertebral compression fractures) and compared these results with those from 31 normal postmenopausal women age-matched with the “normal” corticosteroid-treated women. Radiocalcium absorption was a function of serum 1,25(OH)2D3 in both corticosteroid-treated groups and in the set as a whole, but the impaired calcium absorption in the corticosteroid-treated patients with osteoporosis was not accounted for by their slightly reduced serum 1,25(OH)2D3 levels. This apparent resistance to the intestinal action of 1,25(OH)2D3 was quantified by a Z score which expresses, in standard deviation units, the difference between the measured calcium absorption and that predicted from the 1,25(OH)2D3 level. The Z score was significantly reduced in the osteoporotic group. Vertebral mineral density (VMD) was measured by quantitative computed tomography in 43 of the corticosteroid-treated cases and in all the normal postmenopausal women; analysis by VMD yielded similar conclusions.