Previous studies suggest that low bone mass is a complication of alcoholic liver disease. Nevertheless, little is known about bone mass and bone metabolism in viral cirrhosis. To evaluate the prevalence and magnitude of hepatic osteopenia in these patients, bone remodeling status, and its relationship with the severity of liver disease and serum levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), we studied 32 consecutive patients with viral cirrhosis and no history of alcohol intake. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry in the lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN), and the values were expressed as the z score. Bone metabolism markers and hormone profiles were measured. Patients with viral cirrhosis showed reduced BMD in all sites (LS: -1.27 +/- 1.06, P < .001; FN: -0.48 +/- 0.96; P < .01). Of the 32 patients, 53% met the diagnostic criteria for osteoporosis. In patients, urine deoxypyridinoline (D-Pyr) as a marker of bone resorption and serum bone alkaline phosphatase (b-AP) as a marker of bone formation were significantly higher than in control subjects (P < .001 and P < .01, respectively). Serum IGF-I was lower than in control subjects (P < .001), and significant differences were also found between patients with and without osteoporosis (P < .05). BMD in LS correlated with severity of the disease, with serum levels of IGF-I, and with urine D-Pyr. Our findings show that viral cirrhosis is a major cause of osteoporosis in men, and that low serum IGF-I levels seem to play a role in the bone mass loss in these patients. The biochemical markers of bone remodeling suggest high-turnover osteoporosis in patients with viral cirrhosis.