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J Clin Invest. 1979 Aug;64(2):655-65.

Altered mineral metabolism in glucocorticoid-induced osteopenia. Effect of 25-hydroxyvitamin D administration.


Parameters of mineral and bone metabolism were studied in 17 patients treated chronically with supraphysiologic doses of glucocorticoids. When compared to 15 matched normal subjects, the patient group exhibited similar serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels, decreased intestinal 47Ca absorption, increased serum immunoreactive parathyroid hormone, and decreased forearm bone mass. Iliac crest bone biopsies revealed a decreased bone formation rate and increased osteoclast number. Treatment with 25-OHD (mean dose 4.03 micrograms/d) and calcium (500 mg/d) in nine patients produced a 46% increase in 47Ca absorption (P less than 0.001) and a 54% decrease in serum immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (P less than 0.001) by 3 mo. In addition, by 12 mo the treatment group exhibited (a) a 13.2 +/- 5.1% increase in metaphyseal (P less than 0.001) and a 2.1 +/- 0.4% increase in diaphyseal (P less than 0.05) forearm bone mass, and (b) significant decreases in cortical and endosteal osteoclast number. Biochemical and bone mass changes persisted through 18 mo. No significant changes in any parameter occurred in eight control patients administered calcium 100 mg/d. It is concluded that treatment with 25-OHD and calcium can significantly improve parameters of mineral and bone metabolism in patients with glucocorticoid-induced osteopenia.

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