Low bone mineral density predicts the formation of new syndesmophytes in patients with axial spondyloarthritis

Arthritis Res Ther. 2018 Oct 16;20(1):231. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1731-8.


Background: This study aimed to investigate whether the presence of low bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) predicts formation of new syndesmophytes over 2 years.

Methods: One hundred and nineteen patients fulfilling the imaging arm of the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society axSpA criteria were enrolled. All patients were under 50 years of age. The modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis Spinal Score (mSASSS) was assessed by two trained readers blinded to the patients' data. BMD (lumbar spine, femoral neck or total hip) at baseline was assessed using dual-energy absorptiometry. Low BMD was defined as Z score ≤ - 2.0. Spinal radiographic progression was defined as worsening of the mSASSS by ≥ 2 points over 2 years. Logistic regression analyses were performed to identify predictors associated with development of new syndesmophytes and spinal radiographic progression.

Results: At baseline, 19 (16%) patients had low BMD. New syndesmophytes had developed in 22 (21%) patients at 2-year follow-up. New syndesmophyte formation after 2 years occurred more in patients with low BMD than in those with normal BMD (p = 0.047). In the multivariable analysis, current smoking, existing syndesmophytes and low BMD at baseline were associated with spinal radiographic progression (OR (95% CI) 3.0 (1.1, 7.7), 4.6 (1.8, 11.8) and 3.6 (1.2, 11.2), respectively). The presence of syndesmophytes at baseline and low BMD were predictors of new syndesmophytes over the following 2 years (OR (95% CI) 5.5 (2.0, 15.2) and 3.6 (1.1, 11.8), respectively).

Conclusions: Low BMD and existing syndesmophytes at baseline were independently associated with the development of new syndesmophytes in young axSpA patients.

Keywords: Ankylosing spondylitis; Axial spondyloarthritis; Bone mineral density; Syndesmophyte.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adult
  • Axis, Cervical Vertebra / diagnostic imaging*
  • Axis, Cervical Vertebra / physiopathology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spondylarthritis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spondylarthritis / physiopathology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / physiopathology
  • Young Adult