, Volume 14, Issue 12, pp 987-994
Date: 19 Sep 2003

The heterogeneity of bone disease in cirrhosis: a multivariate analysis

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This study aimed to assess the clinical, biochemical and hormonal factors contributing to low bone density in a large ambulatory group of patients with cirrhosis of diverse aetiology. Bone density of the lumbar spine, neck of femur, total hip, total body, as well as total body fat, was measured by dual X-ray (DEXA) absorptiometry in 81 men and 32 women (average age 50.3 years). Morning blood and urine samples were taken for hormonal and biochemical analysis. Viral hepatitis was the most common cause of cirrhosis (54%) and the severity of cirrhosis ranged from Child-Pugh A5–C14. Osteoporosis was most common in the lumbar spine but was present at any site in 31% of women and 22% of men, with osteopenia present in another 40% of both genders. Urinary deoxypyridinoline, a marker of bone resorption, was elevated in 56% of patients and was associated with increasing severity of cirrhosis and a higher prevalence of osteoporosis, particularly of the lumbar spine. Hip-bone density was primarily affected by low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and was associated with secondary hyperparathyroidism in one third of these patients. Additional important predictors for low bone density at all sites were age in women and testosterone in men. These findings indicate that, although the pathophysiology of osteoporosis in chronic liver disease is heterogeneous, high bone turnover may be the underlying pathophysiological mechanism in a significant subgroup of cirrhotic patients and may reflect metabolic effects of hypogonadism or secondary hyperparathyroidism on bone.