Bone mineral density and bone metabolism in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Osteoporos Int. 2003 Sep;14(9):761-7. doi: 10.1007/s00198-003-1443-y. Epub 2003 Jul 29.


Very few studies on bone mineral density and bone metabolism in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) have been reported. DMD is a severe, progressive muscular disease resulting in death at a young age. No specific therapies are available, but corticosteroids induce improvement and slower progression of the disease. However, long-term steroid therapy is a serious risk factor for osteoporosis. This study was aimed at evaluating bone mineral density and calciotropic hormones in a group of children affected by DMD, with or without steroid therapy. Bone mineral density was measured by DXA scan on lumbar spine and total body. Evaluation of calcium, phosphorus, bone turnover markers and calciotropic hormones was performed. Thirty-two children affected by DMD were studied: twenty-two on long-term prednisone therapy, ten not taking corticosteroids. Bone mineral density was lower than normal for age in all patients, and even lower in the group of steroid-treated children. Trunk and lower limb bone mineral densities were more reduced than upper limb mineral density, especially in the steroid-treated subjects. A marked reduction in spine bone mineral density, hypocalciuria, low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, and increased bone turnover markers were observed, and even these especially in the steroid-treated group. In conclusion, decreased bone mineral density and derangement of calcium metabolism were present in DMD patients, and were worsening during corticosteroid therapy. It is thus recommended that bone and mineral metabolism be carefully evaluated in patients with DMD, so that appropriate measures could be taken, especially now that chronic corticosteroid therapy is frequently given.

MeSH terms

  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2 / blood
  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Bone Density* / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / drug therapy
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / physiopathology*
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use


  • Glucocorticoids
  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D 2
  • Calcium
  • Prednisone