The pathophysiology of bone disease in gastrointestinal disease

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Aug;15(8):857-64. doi: 10.1097/00042737-200308000-00004.


Reduced bone mass and the increased risk of fracture in gastrointestinal diseases have a multifactorial pathogenesis. Undoubtedly, genetics play an important role, but other factors such as systemic inflammation, malnutrition, hypogonadism, glucocorticoid therapy in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other lifestyle factors, such as smoking or being sedentary, may contribute to reduced bone mass. At a molecular level the proinflammatory cytokines that contribute to the intestinal immune response in IBD and probably also in coeliac disease are also known to enhance bone resorption. The discovery of the role of the receptor to activated NFkappaB (RANK) interaction with its ligand RANKL in orchestrating the balance between bone resorption and formation may link mucosal and systemic inflammation with bone remodelling, since RANK-RANKL are also involved in lymphopoiesis and T-cell apoptosis. Low circulating leptin in response to weight loss in any gastrointestinal disease may be an important factor in reducing bone mass. This report will summarize current concepts regarding gastrointestinal diseases (primarily IBD, coeliac disease and postgastrectomy states) and low bone mass and fracture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Gastrectomy / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Nutritional Status / physiology
  • Osteomalacia / diagnosis
  • Osteomalacia / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / metabolism


  • Leptin
  • Vitamin D