Background: Patients with cystic fibrosis have several risk factors for the development of low bone mineral density (BMD). To identify the prevalence and clinical correlates of low BMD in adult patients with cystic fibrosis, densitometry was performed in 151 patients (83 men) aged 15-52 years.
Methods: BMD was measured in the lumbar spine (L1-4) using dual energy x ray absorptiometry (DXA) and quantitative computed tomography (QCT). It was also measured in the proximal femur (total hip and femoral neck) using DXA, and in the distal and ultra distal forearm using single energy x ray absorptiometry (SXA). Biochemical markers of bone turnover, vitamin D levels, parathyroid hormone levels, and a variety of anthropometric variables were also assessed.
Results: The mean (SD) BMD Z score was -0.73 (0.85) in the distal forearm, -0.31 (0.92) in the ultra distal forearm, -1.21 (1. 18) in the lumbar spine using DXA, -0.56 (1.36) in the lumbar spine using QCT, -1.25 (1.30) in the femoral neck, and -1.01 (1.14) in the total hip. 34% of patients had a BMD Z score of -2 or less at one or more skeletal sites. Body mass index (0.527, p = 0.01), percentage predicted forced expiratory volume in one second (0.388, p = 0.01), and physical activity (0.249, p = 0.05) were positively related to the mean BMD Z score. Levels of C reactive protein (-0.328, p = 0. 01), parathyroid hormone (-0.311, p = 0.01) and biochemical markers of bone turnover (osteocalcin -0.261 and bone specific alkaline phosphatase -0.249, p = 0.05) were negatively related to the mean BMD Z score. Vitamin D insufficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D <15 ng/ml) was prevalent (53/139 patients, 38%) despite supplementation with 900 IU vitamin D per day.
Conclusions: Low bone density is prevalent in adult patients with cystic fibrosis. Current levels of vitamin D supplementation appear to be inadequate.