Bone, sweet bone--osteoporotic fractures in diabetes mellitus

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2012 Jan 17;8(5):297-305. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2011.233.


Diabetes mellitus adversely affects the skeleton and is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and fragility fractures. The mechanisms underlying low bone strength are not fully understood but could include impaired accrual of peak bone mass and diabetic complications, such as nephropathy. Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) affects the skeleton more severely than type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), probably because of the lack of the bone anabolic actions of insulin and other pancreatic hormones. Bone mass can remain high in patients with T2DM, but it does not protect against fractures, as bone quality is impaired. The class of oral antidiabetic drugs known as glitazones can promote bone loss and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women and, therefore, should be avoided if osteoporosis is diagnosed. A physically active, healthy lifestyle and prevention of diabetic complications, along with calcium and vitamin D repletion, represent the mainstay of therapy for osteoporosis in patients with T1DM or T2DM. Assessment of BMD and other risk factors as part of the diagnostic procedure can help design tailored treatment plans. All osteoporosis drugs seem to be effective in patients with diabetes mellitus. Increased awareness of osteoporosis is needed in view of the growing and aging population of patients with diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / etiology*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / metabolism*
  • Thiazolidinediones / adverse effects
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use


  • Thiazolidinediones