Osteoporosis in systemic lupus erythematosus: prevention and treatment

Lupus. 2001;10(3):227-32. doi: 10.1191/096120301671413439.


The patient with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is at risk of osteoporosis through several factors: the inflammatory disease itself, disease-related co-morbidity, and its treatment. Bone loss is apparent early in the disease and this may be confounded primarily by treatment with corticosteroids. Patients should be assessed for additional risk factors for osteoporosis and general lifestyle measures adopted. Bone mineral density measurement should be considered in SLE patients at high risk of osteoporosis, particularly those starting corticosteroids and in postmenopausal women. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation provide general prophylaxis and are a suitable first-line option. Hormone replacement should be used in hypogondal subjects unless contra-indicated. In subjects at high fracture risk, particularly in postmenopausal women, bisphosphonate therapy should be considered as these agents have been shown to significantly reduce vertebral fracture risk. These measures should reduce the burden of osteoporosis and fracture in patients with lupus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Osteoporosis* / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis* / etiology
  • Osteoporosis* / prevention & control
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Diphosphonates
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium