Basic and clinical aspects of osteoporosis in inflammatory bowel disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Dec 14;13(46):6156-65. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i46.6156.


Low bone mineral density and the increased risk of fracture in gastrointestinal diseases have a multifactorial pathogenesis. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia and epidemiologic studies have reported an increased prevalence of low bone mass in patients with IBD. Certainly, genetics play an important role, along with other factors such as systemic inflammation, malnutrition, hypogonadism, glucocorticoid therapy in IBD and other lifestyle factors. At a molecular level the proinflammatory cytokines that contribute to the intestinal immune response in IBD are known to enhance bone resorption. There are genes influencing osteoblast function and it is likely that LRP5 may be involved in the skeletal development. Also the identification of vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and some of its polymorphisms have led to consider the possible relationships between them and some autoimmune diseases and may be involved in the pathogenesis through the exertion of its immunomodulatory effects during inflammation. Trying to explain the physiopathology we have found that there is increasing evidence for the integration between systemic inflammation and bone loss likely mediated via receptor for activated nuclear factor kappa-B (RANK), RANK-ligand, and osteoprotegerin, proteins that can affect both osteoclastogenesis and T-cell activation. Although glucocorticoids can reduce mucosal and systemic inflammation, they have intrinsic qualities that negatively impact on bone mass. It is still controversial if all IBD patients should be screened, especially in patients with preexisting risk factors for bone disease. Available methods to measure BMD include single energy x-ray absorptiometry, DXA, quantitative computed tomography (QCT), radiographic absorptiometry, and ultrasound. DXA is the establish method to determine BMD, and routinely is measured in the hip and the lumbar spine. There are several treatments options that have proven their effectiveness, while new emergent therapies such as calcitonin and teriparatide among others remain to be assessed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Resorption / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors