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# Osteoporosis due to Glucocorticoid Use in Children with Chronic Illness

Hormone Research in Paediatrics

S. Karger AG

Glucocorticoids, Osteoporosis

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### Abstract

Osteoporosis is increasingly recognized as a complication of chronic childhood illnesses, particularly when glucocorticoids (GCs) are necessary for treatment. Elucidation of the mechanisms leading to bone fragility in these settings requires disentanglement of the relative contributions of myriad risk factors, including disease activity, muscle weakness, immobilization, delayed growth and puberty, compromised nutrition, and osteotoxic medications. Over the years, bone mass and density evaluations by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) have become popular for assessing bone health in children; however, such measurements are difficult to interpret because of the confounding effect of bone size and the lack of DXA-based densitometric criteria for defining osteoporosis in childhood. Recently, a new diagnostic approach for evaluation of densitometric data in children has been suggested, driven by Frost’s mechanostat theory. A diagnostic algorithm based on the mechanostat theory of bone-muscle development is proposed for the characterization of bone disease in children with chronic illness. In addition to DXA-based assessments, techniques such as peripheral quantitative computerized tomography and ilial histomorphometry, for which there are pediatric reference data, are gaining ground in the characterization of skeletal changes due to chronic illness. Although these diagnostic techniques expand our understanding of osteoporosis in children, they do not replace clinical assessment. Concrete clinical evidence for GC-induced bone fragility can be seen in spinal changes due to vertebral compression, with spinal morphometry emerging as an essential, but frequently overlooked, tool in the evaluation of children’s bone health. Presently, osteoporosis treatment in the chronic illness setting remains experimental and should be restricted to clinical studies. Following an understanding of the natural history of GC-induced osteoporosis in children, randomized, placebo-controlled prevention and intervention trials will be the next step toward the development of clinical practice guidelines.

### Most cited references74

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### Bone "mass" and the "mechanostat": a proposal.

(1987)
The observed fit of bone mass to a healthy animal's typical mechanical usage indicates some mechanism or mechanisms monitor that usage and control the three longitudinal growth, bone modeling, and BMU-based remodeling activities that directly determine bone mass. That mechanism could be named a mechanostat. Accumulated evidence suggests it includes the bone itself, plus mechanisms that transform its mechanical usage into appropriate signals, plus other mechanisms that detect those signals and then direct the above three biologic activities. In vivo studies have shown that bone strains in or above the 1500-3000 microstrain range cause bone modelling to increase cortical bone mass, while strains below the 100-300 microstrain range release BMU-based remodeling which then removes existing cortical-endosteal and trabecular bone. That arrangement provides a dual system in which bone modeling would adapt bone mass to gross overloading, while BMU-based remodeling would adapt bone mass to gross underloading, and the above strain ranges would be the approximate "setpoints" of those responses. The anatomical distribution of those mechanical usage effects are well known. If circulating agents or disease changed the effective setpoints of those responses their bone mass effects should copy the anatomical distribution of the mechanical usage effects. That seems to be the case for many agents and diseases, and several examples are discussed, including postmenopausal osteoporosis, fluoride effects, bone loss in orbit, and osteogenesis imperfecta. The mechanostat proposal is a seminal idea which fits diverse evidence but it requires critique and experimental study.
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### Medical expenditures for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures in the United States in 1995: report from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

(1996)
Osteoporotic fractures are a significant public health problem, resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality. Previous estimates of the economic burden of osteoporosis, however, have not fully accounted for the costs associated with treatment of nonhip fractures, minority populations, or men. Accordingly, the 1995 total direct medical expenditures for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures were estimated for all persons aged 45 years or older in the United States by age group, sex, race, type of fracture, and site of service (inpatient hospital, nursing home, and outpatient). Osteoporosis attribution probabilities were used to estimate the proportion of health service utilization and expenditures for fractures that resulted from osteoporosis. Health care expenditures attributable to osteoporotic fractures in 1995 were estimated at $13.8 billion, of which$10.3 billion (75.1%) was for the treatment of white women, $2.5 billion (18.4%) for white men,$0.7 billion (5.3%) for nonwhite women, and $0.2 billion (1.3%) for nonwhite men. Although the majority of U.S. health care expenditures for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures were for white women, one-fourth of the total was borne by other population subgroups. By site-of-service,$8.6 billion (62.4%) was spent for inpatient care, $3.9 billion (28.2%) for nursing home care, and$1.3 billion (9.4%) for outpatient services. Importantly, fractures at skeletal sites other than the hip accounted for 36.9% of the total attributed health care expenditures nationally. The contribution of nonhip fractures to the substantial morbidity and expenditures associated with osteoporosis has been underestimated by previous researchers.
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### Cyclic administration of pamidronate in children with severe osteogenesis imperfecta.

(1998)
Severe osteogenesis imperfecta is a disorder characterized by osteopenia, frequent fractures, progressive deformity, loss of mobility, and chronic bone pain. There is no effective therapy for the disorder. We assessed the effects of treatment with a bisphosphonate on bone resorption. In an uncontrolled observational study involving 30 children who were 3 to 16 years old and had severe osteogenesis imperfecta, we administered pamidronate intravenously (mean [+/-SD] dose, 6.8+/-1.1 mg per kilogram of body weight per year) at 4-to-6-month intervals for 1.3 to 5.0 years. Clinical status, biochemical characteristics reflecting bone turnover, the bone mineral density of the lumbar spine, and radiologic changes were assessed regularly during treatment. Administration of pamidronate resulted in sustained reductions in serum alkaline phosphatase concentrations and in the urinary excretion of calcium and type I collagen N-telopeptide. There was a mean annualized increase of 41.9+/-29.0 percent in bone mineral density, and the deviation of bone mineral density from normal, as indicated by the z score, improved from -5.3+/-1.2 to -3.4+/-1.5. The cortical width of the metacarpals increased by 27+/-20.2 percent per year. The increases in the size of the vertebral bodies suggested that new bone had formed. The mean incidence of radiologically confirmed fractures decreased by 1.7 per year (P<0.001). Treatment with pamidronate did not alter the rate of fracture healing, the growth rate, or the appearance of the growth plates. Mobility and ambulation improved in 16 children and remained unchanged in the other 14. All the children reported substantial relief of chronic pain and fatigue. In children with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, cyclic administration of intravenous pamidronate improved clinical outcomes, reduced bone resorption, and increased bone density.
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### Author and article information

###### Journal
HRE
Horm Res Paediatr
10.1159/issn.1663-2818
Hormone Research in Paediatrics
S. Karger AG
1663-2818
1663-2826
2005
November 2005
21 November 2005
: 64
: 5
: 209-221
###### Affiliations
Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa and Division of Endocrinology, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Canada
###### Article
88976 Horm Res 2005;64:209–221
10.1159/000088976
16227699
© 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

###### Page count
Figures: 3, Tables: 4, References: 109, Pages: 13
###### Product
Self URI (application/pdf): https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/88976
###### Categories
Mini Review

Osteoporosis, Glucocorticoids