Decreased bone mineral density in patients with neurofibromatosis 1

Osteoporos Int. 2005 Sep;16(9):1161-6. doi: 10.1007/s00198-005-1940-2. Epub 2005 Jun 30.


Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is one of the most common autosomal dominant diseases. Although there is a considerable variability in clinical expression, NF1 is almost fully penetrant in adult patients and may be associated with a variety of skeletal anomalies. Spinal deformities are the most common skeletal manifestation, with an incidence estimated from 10-25% in various studies. Some NF1 patients have a dystrophic form of scoliosis, which is characterized by early age at onset and rapid progression. Complications have been reported during spinal instrumentation of dystrophic curves due to soft, non-resistant vertebral bony tissue, suggesting that an alteration of bone quality may occur in NF1 patients. Recent studies have suggested that decreased bone mineral density (BMD) may occur among patients with NF1. We performed a cross-sectional study on 104 adults with NF1, using quantitative ultrasonometry (QUS) to investigate whether decreased BMD is a general phenomenon in NF1 patients. The data reveal that BMD, as measured by age- and gender- adjusted Z-scores, is significantly lower in NF1 patients than in the normal reference population. The decrease in BMD appears to be even more marked among NF1 patients with scoliosis that requires surgical treatment. The findings indicate that NF1 produces a generalized alteration of bone in addition to the focal osseous dysplasias of the vertebrae, tibia, and sphenoid wing that characterize this condition. The pathological mechanism underlying these bony changes remains to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / etiology
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / physiopathology
  • Calcaneus / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcaneus / physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / complications
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / physiopathology*
  • Scoliosis / etiology
  • Scoliosis / physiopathology
  • Ultrasonography