Background: The aim of this study was to determine bone mass at different skeletal sites in patients with end-stage liver disease and the effect of liver transplantation on bone mineralization.
Methods: Bone mineral density in different skeletal regions was measured by photon absorptiometry in 25 patients with chronic liver disease, and the measurements were repeated in nine patients after orthotopic liver transplantation.
Results: In patients with liver failure bone mass values were not significantly different from those of controls. After liver transplantation bone mass decreased significantly during the first 6 posttransplant months at the distal radius, lumbar spine, and femur (p < 0.01) and was still below pretransplant values at the 12th posttransplant month. Serum osteocalcin increased significantly from the 3rd month after transplantation (from 6.9 +/- 4.4 to 12.0 +/- 6.5 micrograms/l; p < 0.0001) and remained increased throughout the first posttransplant year.
Conclusion: Early and accelerated bone loss occurred after liver transplantation. This bone reduction seems to be mainly the result of increased bone resorption, possibly related to corticosteroid therapy.