AIM: Previous studies suggest that loss of bone mineral density (BMD) frequently occurs in patients with chronic viral liver disease, presenting with histologically proven liver cirrhosis. However, little is known about the occurrence of bone disease in non-cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis B or C. Therefore, it was the aim of this study to evaluate this particular population for BMD and bone turnover markers.
METHODS: Biochemical markers of bone turnover and BMD were measured in 43 consecutive patients with HCV (n = 30) or HBV (n = 13) infection without histological evidence for liver cirrhosis. Mean age was 49 years (range 26-77 years). BMD was measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry in the femoral neck (FN) and the lumbar spine (LS) region. In addition, bone metabolism markers were measured.
RESULTS: BMD was lowered in 25 (58%) of the patients with chronic hepatitis B or C (FN: 0.76 (0.53-0.99); LS: 0.96 (0.62-1.23) g/cm2). Eight (32%) osteopenic patients were diagnosed with osteoporosis. Bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (P = 0.005) and intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) (P = 0.001) were significantly elevated in the more advanced stages of fibrosis. Mean T-score value was lower in patients with chronic hepatitis C as compared to patients suffering from chronic hepatitis B; however, the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.09).
CONCLUSION: There was a significantly reduced BMD in non-cirrhotic patients with chronic hepatitis B or C infection. Alterations of bone metabolism already occurred in advanced liver fibrosis without cirrhosis. According to our results, these secondary effects of chronic viral hepatitis should be further investigated.