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J Rheumatol. 2001 Jan;28(1):102-8.

Factors associated with low bone mineral density in female patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030-1310, USA.



To study risk factors for low bone mineral density (BMD, g/cm) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


Ninety-two consecutive patients with SLE followed by rheumatology faculty between 1997 and 1999 completed a questionnaire regarding lifestyle during the clinic visit, a chart review was performed, and data were collected for the time of the first dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) examination. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to assess relationships between various risk factors and BMD.


Ninety-eight percent of patients had received prednisone, 51% were postmenopausal (9 of whom received hormone replacement therapy), 68% had received hydroxychloroquine, and 15% were osteoporotic. The following factors were found to be significantly related to lower BMD by univariate analysis: Caucasian race, older age at diagnosis, higher age at the time of the first DXA, longer disease duration, higher cumulative corticosteroid dose, higher SLE Damage Index score, and postmenopausal status. In the multivariate analysis only the following factors were significant: Caucasian race, increased number of pregnancies, postmenopausal status, higher SLE Damage Index, and higher cumulative corticosteroid dose. An unexpected finding was that taking hydroxychloroquine was the only factor associated with higher BMD of the hip and spine in the univariate analysis, and it remained predictive of higher BMD of the hip and spine in the multivariate analysis.


Hydroxychloroquine appears to protect against low BMD in corticosteroid treated patients with SLE.

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