Glucocorticoids, osteocytes, and skeletal fragility: the role of bone vascularity

Bone. 2010 Mar;46(3):564-70. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2009.06.030. Epub 2009 Jul 8.


Glucocorticoid administration is required for many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, but use of these drugs is associated with skeletal side effects including bone loss, fractures, and osteonecrosis. Fractures often occur without a reduction in bone mineral density, strongly suggesting that glucocorticoid excess adversely affects other aspects of bone strength. Although the primary effects of glucocorticoid excess on the skeleton are directly on bone cells, a vascular connection between these cells and the loss of bone strength appears likely. This review examines this connection and how it may explain the greater decline in bone strength than loss of bone mass that occurs with glucocorticoid excess.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / blood supply*
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / adverse effects
  • Inflammation Mediators / therapeutic use
  • Osteocytes / drug effects*
  • Osteocytes / pathology*
  • Osteocytes / physiology
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Inflammation Mediators