Risk Factors for the Development of Vertebral and Total Skeleton Osteoporosis in Patients with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
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The objectives of this work was to (1) study the bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine, total skeleton, and body composition in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and (2) evaluate the risk factors (premature menopause, stages of the disease, hyperbilirubinemia) and bone and liver biochemical parameters for the development of osteoporosis. We studied 23 women with a compatible diagnosis of PBC. The BMD and body composition were evaluated by X-ray absorptiometry (Lunar DPX-L). The average age of the population was 56.7 ± 10.2 years. The BMD of the lumbar spine and of the total skeleton was 1.3 SDs below the normal population matched for sex and age. In the total skeleton, the legs were the most severely affected area (Z score −1.5). The body composition showed no significant difference compared with the normal population. The BMD of 56% of the patients was less than −2.5 SDs from the average normal young values. Patients with a history of vertebral fractures had diminished mineral density of the lumbar spine, as did those who had had no fractures. Of the risk factors studied, patients with premature menopause had a lower bone mass compared with patients with normal menopausal age (Z score of the total skeleton was −2.1 ± 1.8 versus −1.1 ± 1.0) but the difference did not reach statistical significance. The bone mass was not affected in patients with regular menstrual cycles. There were no statistically significant differences in high levels of bilirubin, advanced stages of the disease, or the biochemical variables studied. It is concluded that patients with primary biliary cirrhosis present diminished cortical and trabecular bone mass, whereas body composition was unaffected. Premature hormone deficit, possibly triggered by the chronic hepatic pathology, is a contributing factor to the osteoporosis in this population.
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