Introduction: In renal transplant patients, bone loss may be related to the drugs patients are taking but also to their past history of chronic kidney disease. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in BMD 2 years after an initial assessment (performed 9 months post transplantation) and the factors associated with these changes.
Methods: This longitudinal study included patients who had undergone a renal transplantation between 2005 and 2011, and who were followed up at the Lille Regional University Hospital. Patients were included if they had a first bone evaluation (including bone densitometry, spine X-rays and biological assessment) and at least another BMD assessment. The first assessment was performed on average 9 months post transplantation. A second assessment was performed at 2 years.
Results: Two hundred fifty-nine out of 366 patients satisfied the inclusion criteria. The population included 96 women. Mean age at transplantation was 49.7 ± 12.1 years. Mean duration of dialysis was 3.2 ± 3.3 years. For 75 patients (29.0%), corticosteroid treatment was discontinued 7 days after transplantation without subsequent resumption during follow-up. Vertebral fractures assessed by X-rays at baseline were found in 28 patients (10.8%). According to the WHO classification, 106 patients (40.9%) patients had osteoporosis and 111 patients (42.8%) had osteopenia at the first assessment. Oral bisphosphonates were prescribed for 95 patients. The decision to prescribe bisphosphonates was taken jointly by rheumatologists and nephrologists based on BMD assessment, past history of fracture and corticosteroid management. In all patients, BMD gains at the second evaluation (2.2 ± 0.79 years) compared with baseline were significant (3.9 ± 6.6, 2.6% ± 7.6, 3.0 ± 7.2% at the lumbar spine, femoral neck and total hip respectively; p < 0.0001). The difference in gain between bisphosphonate-treated and untreated patients was significant (+ 5.0 ± 0.8% (p < 0.0001), + 2.5 ± 1.0% (p = 0.01) and + 2.7 ± 0.9% (p < 0.01) at the lumbar spine, femoral neck and total hip respectively. The patients who benefited early corticosteroid discontinuation had higher gains in BMD at the lumbar spine (+ 2.1 ± 0.9%; p = 0.02) and total hip (+ 2.0 ± 1.0%; p = 0.04) compared to those for whom corticosteroid therapy was maintained. Stepwise regression analysis (patients without bisphosphonates) showed associations between change in BMD (femoral neck) and duration of corticosteroid therapy, bone alkaline phosphatase level at baseline, and absence of vertebral fracture. No correlation was found between change in BMD and duration of dialysis or renal function.
Conclusion: Kidney transplant recipients have an increased risk of bone fragility in the year following transplantation. Bisphosphonates and early corticosteroid discontinuation can improve BMD.
Keywords: Bisphosphonate; Corticosteroid; Kidney transplantation; Osteoporosis.