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Osteoporos Int. 2004 May;15(5):389-95. Epub 2003 Dec 6.

Low bone density and abnormal bone turnover in patients with atherosclerosis of peripheral vessels.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Catania OVE, Via Plebiscito 628, 95124, Catania, Italy.


Patients with vascular calcifications often have low bone mineral density (BMD), but it is still uncertain if osteoporosis and peripheral vascular disease (VD) are interrelated and linked by a common pathomechanism. Moreover, data on bone turnover in patients with advanced atherosclerosis are lacking. We measured BMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and quantitative bone ultrasound (QUS), as well as the serum levels of osteocalcin (OC), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP), osteoprotegerin (OPG) and its ligand RANKL, and the urinary concentration of the C-terminal telopeptides of type I collagen (CrossLaps), in 36 patient (20 male and 16 female) with serious atherosclerotic involvement of the carotid and/or femoral artery to investigate the underlying mechanism of vascular and osseous disorders. Thirty age-matched and gender matched healthy individuals served as controls. After adjustment for age, BMD was significantly reduced at the lumbar spine in 23/36 (63%) patients (mean T score -1.71+/-1.42) and at the proximal femur in 34/36 (93%) patients (neck mean T score -2.5+/-0.88). Ten patients (27%) had abnormal QUS parameters. Gender and diabetes had no effect on the relationship between vascular calcification and bone density at any site measured. VD subjects had OC and BAP serum levels lower than controls (13.3+/-3.1 vs 27.7+/-3.3 ng/ml, P<0.01, and 8.4+/-2.3 vs 12.5+/-1.4 microg/l, P<0.01, respectively). Urinary CrossLaps excretion was not significantly different in patients with VD and in controls (257.9+/-138.9 vs 272.2+/-79.4 micro g/mmol Cr, respectively). Serum OPG and RANKL levels were similar in patients and in controls (3.5+/-1.07 vs 3.4+/-1.05 pmol/l, and 0.37+/-0.07 vs 0.36+/-0.06 pmol/l, respectively). We proved high occurrence of osteoporosis in VD, with evidence of age and gender independence. Negative bone remodelling balance would be a consequence of reduced bone formation, with no apparent increased activation of the OPG-RANKL system.

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