Loss of bone density with inhaled triamcinolone in Lung Health Study II

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Dec 15;170(12):1302-9. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200310-1349OC. Epub 2004 Sep 16.


Inhaled glucocorticosteroids (ICS) are commonly prescribed for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. No adverse effect on bone mineral density (BMD) has been proven. In a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial at seven centers in North America, we recruited 412 current smokers or recent quitters with mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They used inhaled triamcinolone acetonide, 600 mcg, or placebo, twice daily. We measured femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD at baseline and after 1 and 3 years, and serum osteocalcin at baseline, 3 months, 1 year, and 3 years. After 3 years, BMD at the femoral neck decreased 1.78% more with ICS than with placebo (p < 0.001). More participants in the ICS group experienced 6% or more loss of femoral neck BMD (p = 0.002). Lumbar spine BMD increased in the placebo group by 0.98% but decreased by 0.35% in the ICS group (a difference of 1.33%, p = 0.007). Changes in osteocalcin did not correlate with changes in BMD. Fractures, lost height, or osteoporosis diagnoses were not increased among ICS users compared with placebo users. In summary, the use of inhaled triamcinolone acetonide was associated with loss of BMD at the femoral neck and lumbar spine after 3 years of treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Resorption / chemically induced
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Triamcinolone / administration & dosage
  • Triamcinolone / adverse effects*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Triamcinolone