Background: In spite of the accumulating evidence of an increased prevalence of osteopenia and osteoporosis in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), the time course of bone loss is not well described, and there is little knowledge about factors indicating an increased risk of rapid bone loss.
Methods: We conducted a follow-up study in 80 IBD patients (45 men and 25 premenopausal and 10 postmenopausal women), 19 with ulcerative colitis and 61 with Crohn disease, with a mean follow-up time of 568 +/- 60 days, to assess bone loss, risk factors of rapid bone loss, and value of bone markers to predict bone loss. Bone mineral density was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, bone formation by bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP), and bone resorption by N-terminal telopeptide of type-I collagen (NTX) and free deoxypyridinoline (DPD).
Results: Bone density changes per year were 0.46% +/- 3% at the spine, 0.06% +/- 5.1% at the femoral neck, -1.1% +/- 7.7% at the triangle of Ward, and -0.52% +/- 1.86% at total body level. Type and duration of disease, sex, age, and level of NTX, DPD, and BAP at base line did not show significant differences between patients who lost and those who did not lose bone mass. Bone loss was significantly higher in patients with (n = 28) than in those without steroids (n = 52) at the femoral neck and Ward triangle but not at the spine and total body.
Conclusions: Change in bone mass in IBD patients during short-term follow-up is low on average, but there is great heterogeneity within the population, which cannot be explained by the use of steroids alone. Bone loss cannot be predicted by analysis of bone markers.