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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Feb;83(2):415-22.

Longitudinal study of bone turnover after acute spinal cord injury.

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Department of Chemical Pathology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia.


Increased bone turnover is a sequel of spinal cord injury (SCI) and predisposes to a number of clinically relevant complications, including osteoporosis and fractures. There are limited data available regarding the changes in modern markers of bone metabolism after SCI. We report a 6-month longitudinal follow-up of biochemical markers of bone metabolism (free and total deoxypyridinoline, total pyridinoline, N-telopeptide, osteocalcin, and total alkaline phosphatase) and bone mineral densitometry in 30 subjects with acute SCI. Markers of bone formation showed only a minor rise, remaining within the reference range. In contrast, markers of bone resorption showed a significant rise after acute SCI, peaking around weeks 10-16, with values up to 10 times the upper limit of normal. Paired bone mineral densities (n = 11; on the average, determined 14 weeks apart) showed no change at the hip, lumbar spine, or radius, but demonstrated a decrement in the entire lower limbs. changes in biochemical markers of bone formation and resorption were comparable in patients with quadriplegia and paraplegia, except for a greater increase in quadriplegics in pyridinoline, expressed as a percentage of baseline. In conclusion, a marked increase in bone resorption and modest changes in bone formation occur after SCI, and possibly increased bone resorption occurs in quadriplegia.

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