The impact of sex hormone changes on bone mineral deficit in chronic renal failure

Endocr Res. 2009;34(3):90-9. doi: 10.1080/07435800903127598.


In chronic renal failure several factors affect bone homeostasis leading to the development of renal osteodystrophy. Common calcitropic hormone derangements in renal failure play a central role in bone structure and mineral defects, which in turn accompany osteodystrophy frequently resulting in low bone mineral density (BMD) values. However, patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) suffer from several comorbidities, which may partly account for renal bone disease lesions. Hypogonadism in particular accompanies chronic renal failure frequently and exerts an additive effect on bone loss potential. Sex hormones contribute to the equilibrium of osteotropic hormones and cytokines, exerting a protective action on bone tissue. Estrogens have a regulatory effect on bone metabolism in women with renal failure as well. Hypogonadal ESRD women experience a higher bone turnover and more significant bone mass decrements than ESRD women with relatively normal hormone profile and menstrual habits. Female hemodialysis patients have lower BMD values than male patients on average, probably because of menstrual cycle irregularities. However, hypogonadal ESRD men may also experience bone mineral deficits and the severity of hypogonadism may correlate to their bone mineral status. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) appears to reverse bone mineral loss to some extent in both sexes. In conclusion hypogonadism in renal failure contributes to the bone structure and mineral defects as well as the low-energy fracture risk, reflected in BMD measurements. HRT in ESRD patients should therefore not be overlooked in these patients in the face of their significant comorbidities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder / etiology
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Estrogens
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Testosterone