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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2000 Sep;162(3 Pt 1):789-94.

Bone density, body composition, and inflammatory status in cystic fibrosis.

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Section of Respiratory Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine and the Bone Research Unit, Academic Centre, University Hospital of Wales and Llandough Hospital NHS Trust, Penarth, South Glamorgan, United Kingdom.


Low body weight and loss of bone mass are major problems in adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic pulmonary infection. Although these complications probably have a multifactorial origin, we hypothesized that the continuous acute-phase inflammatory and catabolic state may contribute. We determined body composition, bone turnover, physical activity, and circulating interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and their soluble receptors in 22 adults with CF and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Comparisons were also made within patients before and after treatment of an exacerbation of respiratory symptoms. The patients had a lower mean (95% confidence interval [CI]) fat-free mass (FFM) 39.9 (36.3, 43.6) kg than healthy subjects, 49.4 (45.1, 53.7) kg, p < 0.05. The patients were in negative nitrogen balance and 20 had bone mineral density (BMD) Z scores </= 2.5 SD (n = 13) or </= 1 SD (n = 7) at least at one site. They had increased bone collagen breakdown, greatest in those with a reduced FFM. BMD was related to FEV(1) (r = 0.44), IL-6 (r = -0.60), and TNF-alpha-soluble receptors (r = -0.42, r = -0.50). Patients with a low FFM had greater concentrations of IL-6, which suppressed less after antibiotic treatment than in those with a normal FFM. Those with a low FFM were more catabolic and less active than those with a normal FFM. The association between altered body composition, catabolic status, and circulating inflammatory mediators suggests that chronic pulmonary infection in adults with CF may be a contributory factor in the long-term complications of low weight and bone disease.

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