Bone loss following hypogonadism in men with prostate cancer treated with GnRH analogs

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug;87(8):3656-61. doi: 10.1210/jcem.87.8.8782.


It is known that bone mineral density (BMD) is low in men who are hypogonadal. However, the rate and sites of bone loss following testosterone deficiency are not known. The resulting hypogonadism after GnRH analog therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer allows us to examine bone loss and bone resorption immediately after testosterone withdrawal. Therefore, we examined the effects of GnRH analog treatment on bone loss and bone resorption in men with prostate cancer. BMD and serum and urine concentrations of markers of bone turnover were determined in men with prostate cancer and in age-matched controls. Measurements were taken before GnRH therapy and 6 and 12 months after instituting therapy. After 12 months of GnRH therapy, the BMD of the total hip and ultra distal radius decreased significantly (P < 0.001) in men with prostate cancer compared with the controls. The mean bone loss was 3.3% and 5.3%, respectively. The observed reduction in BMD in the spine (2.8%) and the femoral neck (2.3%) did not reach statistical significance. No significant bone loss was observed in the control subjects. The concentration of the urine marker of bone resorption, N-telopeptide, was significantly increased from baseline and from controls at both 6 and 12 months in patients treated with GnRH analog therapy compared with control subjects (P < 0.05). The concentration of a serum marker of bone formation, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, was not significantly different from baseline or from controls at 6 and 12 months. Thus, the decreased total hip and ultra distal radius BMD and increased urinary N-telopeptide concentration after testosterone withdrawal demonstrate an increase in trabecular bone loss and enhanced bone resorption. These findings demonstrate a significant loss of bone in men with prostate cancer after receiving GnRH therapy and suggest that the total hip and radius are the preferred sites for monitoring bone loss in older men. In addition, markers of bone resorption may be helpful.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Bone Density
  • Femur Neck / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur Neck / metabolism
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / analogs & derivatives
  • Goserelin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / chemically induced*
  • Hypogonadism / complications
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Radius / diagnostic imaging
  • Radius / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Goserelin
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone