Objectives/design: Increased rate of bone loss has been reported in women with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and varying degree of liver dysfunction. Whether bone loss is increased in patients without liver dysfunction is unclear. The aim of this study was to estimate retrospectively the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women with PBC and well-preserved liver function.
Subjects/interventions: Forty-three women with PBC, and classified as Child-Pugh class A, were included. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine and the femoral neck.
Results: Median time between measurements of BMD was 26 months (range, 12-48 months). Twenty women were not receiving any bone protective treatment, i.e. hormone replacement therapy (HRT), bisphosphonates or vitamin D/calcium supplementation, whilst 23 women received such treatment. Mean annual bone loss in the former group was 0.38 +/- 2.56% and 0.42 +/- 2.29% at the lumbar spine and the femoral neck, respectively. Women receiving treatment, however, increased their BMD by 1.92 +/- 3.76% and 0.15 +/- 2.75% at the lumbar spine and the femoral neck, respectively. At the lumbar spine the difference with regard to changes in BMD between untreated and treated women was statistically significant (P = 0.02). Women who received HRT (n = 11) increased their BMD at the lumbar spine by 2.95 +/- 3.91%, P = 0.03 when compared with untreated women.
Conclusion: Bone loss in postmenopausal women with PBC and well-preserved liver function is not increased above normal. Treatment with bone protective treatment, mainly HRT, improves BMD at the lumbar spine.