Access: Lupus Research -- Osteoporosis
Research Summaries from 2012
Predictors of Bone Density Changes in Children with Lupus
People with lupus are at increased risk of osteoporosis, the thinning or loss of bone tissue over time. Children with lupus may be especially susceptible to osteoporosis because they are genetically influenced to acquire over 90% of their bone growth by the end of adolescence (during which time, lupus disease-related mechanisms may work to reduce bone growth). Other factors, however, such as physical activity and vitamin D intake are also known to influence bone development in children. The degree to which children reach their genetically-influenced degree of bone growth is largely unknown. The results of this study identify a trajectory of bone growth over time in children newly diagnosed with lupus, and identify specific factors that influence this trajectory.
Reduced Bone Density in Newly Diagnosed Children with Lupus
Sun avoidance, vitamin D deficiency, and steroid treatments are associated with thinning of the bones, or "osteoporosis." Children with lupus may be especially susceptible to osteoporosis because they are often being treated with steroids at a time when most of their initial bone development is still taking place. It would be useful for children with lupus (as well as their family members) to know whether they may be experiencing osteoporosis early on in their disease course due to steroid treatments or other factors. The results of this study highlight risk factors for developing osteoporosis, as well as the relative importance of lupus disease mechanisms and steroid treatments in the likelihood of a child newly diagnosed with lupus developing osteoporosis.
Earlier Steroid Treatment In Pediatric Lupus Patients Is Related to Higher Risk of Bone Disease
Steroids are frequently used to treat moderate-to-severe lupus flares because they are highly effective and work quickly. However, steroids have many serious side effects, including potentially severe damage to joints or “osteonecrosis,” which is an interruption of the blood supply to the bone. The researchers hoped to learn whether starting steroids at a younger age is a risk factor for osteonecrosis. The results of this study suggest the possibility that steroids might contribute to a serious bone complication in some children with lupus.
Read more >>
Low Level of Vitamin D Does Not Necessarily Result in Bone Disease in People With Lupus
People with lupus are advised to avoid the sun because the ultraviolet rays can trigger rashes. Some patients experience more widespread flares after sun exposure. However, sun avoidance leads to low levels of vitamin D in the body. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with thinning of the bones, or "osteoporosis." The researchers wanted to know about possible relationships between vitamin D levels in the blood, lupus treatments, and bone mineral density (BMD), a measurement of how thick bones are. The results of this study showed that people with lupus who are treated with steroids are at increased risk of having low levels of vitamin D. Although reduced levels of vitamin D are known to be directly linked to osteoporosis, this study did not show that connection.
Read more >>