Celiac disease presenting as severe osteopenia

Hawaii Med J. 2011 Nov;70(11):242-4.


The authors describe a unique presentation of celiac disease as multiple non-traumatic fractures in a young male without gastrointestinal complaints. A 29-year-old man presented with back pain and was found to have a non-traumatic compression fracture of the lumbar and thoracic spine on plain X-ray. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) confirmed osteoporosis at the L3/L4 vertebral bodies. Parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium, and vitamin D levels were normal. He had no gastrointestinal complaints, but serologic studies were positive to include an elevated gliadin IgA Ab, gliadin IgG Ab, and an elevated tissue transglutaminase IgA Ab. He was treated with a gluten-free diet, calcium, and vitamin D supplementation as well as teriparatide. Follow up bone density showed improvement and has no further fractures to date. Primary care physicians, gastroenterologists, and endocrinologists must have a high index of clinical suspicion for celiac disease in any patient who presents with low bone density regardless of the serum 25-OH vitamin D levels or presence of gastrointestinal complaints.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / diagnosis*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / drug therapy
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis*
  • Celiac Disease / drug therapy
  • Fractures, Compression / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Teriparatide / therapeutic use
  • Thoracic Vertebrae
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Teriparatide
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium