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J Orthop Res. 2019 Nov;37(11):2348-2357. doi: 10.1002/jor.24400. Epub 2019 Jul 22.

Serum Biomarkers Related to Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteonecrosis of the Femoral Head: A Prospective Nested Case-Control Study.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, 180 Fenglin Road, Shanghai, 200032, China.
Department of Orthopaedics, The Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, China.
Department of Rheumatology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.


Early diagnosis and prevention of glucocorticoid (GC)-induced osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH) continues to be a challenging problem for clinicians and researchers. However, the role of circulating biomarkers for GC-induced ONFH, which may reveal individual susceptibility and facilitate earlier diagnosis, remains to be determined. The aim of this study was to identify potential biomarkers that may predict early GC-induced ONFH. A total of 123 patients scheduled for initial systemic GC therapy were enrolled in this prospective nested case-control study. The serum concentrations of 13 potential biomarkers were measured in seven patients with GC-induced ONFH, diagnosed instantly after short-term use of GCs and in 20 controls who did not develop osteonecrosis despite similar GC therapy. Biomarkers were measured both before and after taking GCs to identify any differences in marker levels and the changes during GC therapy between two groups. Type I collagen cross-linked C-telopeptide (β-CTX; p = 0.000) was significantly lower, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p = 0.092) and apolipoprotein (apo)-B/apo-A1 (p = 0.085) tended to be lower and higher, respectively, before GC treatment in osteonecrosis group. After GC therapy, β-CTX (p = 0.014) was significantly lower and amino terminal telopeptide of procollagen type I (PINP; p = 0.068) tended to be lower in the osteonecrosis group. As secondary outcomes, we observed remarkable changes in nine potential biomarkers following short-term GC therapy in both groups. In conclusion, we found that β-CTX, could potentially be used to predict GC-induced ONFH before GC therapy. Lower β-CTX and PINP are promising biomarkers for the early diagnosis of GC-induced ONFH. These findings need to be confirmed in large-scale prospective studies. © 2019 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 37:2348-2357, 2019.


femoral head; glucocorticoid; osteonecrosis; serum biomarkers; β-CTX


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