Objective: Corticosteroids may contribute to the bone loss associated with Crohn's disease (CD). We investigated the effect on bone mineral density (BMD) of treatment with budesonide, a steroid with low systemic activity, and compared the outcome with prednisone and nonsteroid therapy in patients with CD.
Methods: Prospective annual BMDs of the lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN) were measured for 2 yr in 138 patients with quiescent CD treated with mean daily doses of 8.5 mg of budesonide (n = 48), 10.5 mg of prednisone (n = 45), or nonsteroid drugs (n = 45).
Results: Between baseline and 1 yr, the mean LS BMD decreased 2.36% in the budesonide group (p < 0.001), 0.61% in the prednisone group (ns), and 0.09% in the nonsteroid group (ns). The difference between budesonide and nonsteroid groups was significant (p = 0.003). In the 2nd yr, LS BMD did not change in the three groups. After 2 yr, FN BMD decreased 2.94% in the budesonide group (p < 0.01), 0.36% in the prednisone group (ns), and 1.05% in the nonsteroid group (ns); the differences among groups were not significant. The proportion of patients with bone loss of >2% per annum at the LS and FN was higher in the budesonide group than in the nonsteroid group (p < 0.001) and prednisone group (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Patients with CD receiving maintenance treatment for 2 yr with prednisone show little change in BMD, whereas treatment with budesonide may be associated with LS and FN bone loss. Budesonide does not confer an advantage over low-dose prednisone for the preservation of BMD.