Comparison of bone structure and microstructure in the metacarpal heads between patients with psoriatic arthritis and healthy controls: an HR-pQCT study



Human cadaveric study has indicated that the metacarpal head (MCH) is intracapsular in location. We hypothesized that exposure to the intra-articular inflammatory milieu in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) will lead to bone loss in the MCH.


To compare the bone structure and microstructure in the MCH between patients with PsA and healthy controls by high-resolution peripheral quantitative CT (HR-pQCT), and to ascertain factors associated with bone loss in PsA patients.


Sixty-two PsA patients without joint destruction and 62 age-, gender-, and body mass index–matched healthy subjects underwent HR-pQCT imaging of the second and third MCH (MCH 2&3). The number and volume of bone erosion and enthesiophytes, as well as volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and microstructure at the MCH 2&3, were recorded. Correlation analysis and multivariable linear regression models were used to determine the association of demographic and disease-specific variables with compromised bone structure and microstructure in PsA.


At the MCH 2&3, bone erosion (p = 0.003) and enthesiophyte (p = 0.000) volumes in PsA patients were significantly larger than healthy controls. In PsA patients, older age was associated with a larger erosion and enthesiophyte volume. Concerning the mean vBMD and microstructure at the MCH 2&3, PsA patients had significantly lower mean vBMD (average vBMD − 6.9%, trabecular vBMD − 8.8%, peri-trabecular vBMD − 7.7%, meta-trabecular vBMD − 9.8%), trabecular bone volume fraction (− 8.8%), and trabecular thickness (− 8.1%) compared with control subjects. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that older age and a higher C-reactive protein level were associated with trabecular bone loss.


PsA patients had a higher burden of bone damages (erosions and enthesiophytes) and trabecular bone loss compared with healthy control at the MCH. Inflammation contributed to the deterioration in trabecular microstructure in these patients.

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We thank all patients who participated in this study.

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Correspondence to L.-S. Tam.

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Ethics approval (CRE-2012.082) was obtained from the Ethics Committee of The Chinese University of Hong Kong-New Territories East Cluster Hospitals with written informed consent obtained from all participants.

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Wu, D., Griffith, J., Lam, S. et al. Comparison of bone structure and microstructure in the metacarpal heads between patients with psoriatic arthritis and healthy controls: an HR-pQCT study. Osteoporos Int (2020).

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  • Bone erosion
  • Enthesiophyte
  • HR-pQCT
  • Psoriatic arthritis