Declining bone mass in men with chronic pulmonary disease: contribution of glucocorticoid treatment, body mass index, and gonadal function

Chest. 1999 Dec;116(6):1616-24. doi: 10.1378/chest.116.6.1616.


Background: Men with chronic lung disease (CLD) are at risk for osteoporosis, but the relative contributions of their chronic pulmonary disease, glucocorticoid therapy, and other factors toward loss of bone has not been established. Understanding the relative importance of these factors would assist in selecting patients for bone densitometry screening and in policy decisions regarding Medicare reimbursement.

Objective: To identify patients with CLD who are most likely to benefit from bone densitometry screening based on clinical and biochemical measures.

Design: Cross-sectional medical survey.

Patients: Patients with CLD who were treated with either oral, inhaled, or no glucocorticoid therapy. A control group without lung disease was recruited from the same clinic population.

Measurements: Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was obtained for each group, and the association between bone mass and clinical variables, glucocorticoid use, gonadal hormones, and biochemical markers of bone metabolism was determined.

Results: Osteoporosis (a T score < -2.5 at the hip or spine) was five times as likely in patients with CLD as in control subjects. Although the prevalence of osteoporosis was higher (ninefold) after chronic glucocorticoid therapy, patients with CLD who had never been treated with glucocorticoids had a substantial (fourfold) risk of osteoporosis. Chronic inhaled glucocorticoid therapy offered no protection from bone loss compared to treatment with oral glucocorticoids. Of the clinical and biochemical measures that were obtained, bone mass was weakly correlated with body mass index (BMI), serum estradiol-17beta, and N-telopeptide, but not with testosterone, alkaline phosphatase, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, or osteocalcin.

Conclusion: Patients with CLD should be considered for bone densitometry screening regardless of glucocorticoid use. Those patients with a low BMI and/or decreased serum estradiol-17beta comprise a subgroup with increased risk for osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Collagen / analysis
  • Collagen Type I
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Densitometry
  • Estradiol / blood*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / complications
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Peptides / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Collagen Type I
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Peptides
  • collagen type I trimeric cross-linked peptide
  • Estradiol
  • Collagen