Objective: To clarify the influence of vitamin D metabolism on bone mineral density (BMD) or bone metabolism in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: 57 consecutive patients in our department (mean age 33.9 years, 44 female, 13 male) were studied. BMD was measured with dual-X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine and femoral neck. Biochemical investigation of bone metabolism included measurement of vitamin D metabolites, intact parathyroid hormone (PTH), serum osteocalcin und urinary pyridinoline-crosslink excretion.
Results: 25 patients had 25-OH cholecalciferol serum values below the normal range after adjustment for seasonal changes; 9 patients were severely vitamin D depleted with 25-OH vitamin D serum values below 5 ng/ml. Low 25-OH-vitamin D was significantly associated with high disease activity. Mean 1.25 (OH)2-vitamin D, PTH, osteocalcin and crosslink excretion were in the normal range. Thirty-six patients had normal BMD; 5 patients had osteoporosis according to WHO diagnosis criteria. No correlation of biochemical parameters of bone metabolism with BMD was found.
Conclusion: Severe vitamin D depletion was common in this group of patients with SLE even after adjustment for seasonal variations, especially in patients with high disease activity. Therefore, D-hypovitaminosis should be included in the differential diagnosis in patients with SLE presenting with low bone mass.