Bones and Crohn's: estradiol deficiency in men with Crohn's disease is not associated with reduced bone mineral density.BMC Gastroenterol 2008; 8:48BG
Reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and osteoporosis are frequent in Crohn's disease (CD), but the underlying mechanisms are still not fully understood. Deficiency of sex steroids, especially estradiol (E2), is an established risk factor in postmenopausal osteoporosis.
To assess if hormonal deficiencies in male CD patients are frequent we investigated both, sex steroids, bone density and bone metabolism markers.
111 male CD patients underwent osteodensitometry (DXA) of the spine (L1-L4). Disease related data were recorded. Disease activity was estimated using Crohn's disease activity index (CDAI). Testosterone (T), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), estradiol (E2), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), Osteocalcin and carboxyterminal cross-linked telopeptids (ICTP) were measured in 111 patients and 99 age-matched controls.
Patients had lower T, E2 and SHBG serum levels (p < 0.001) compared to age-matched controls. E2 deficiency was seen in 30 (27.0%) and T deficiency in 3 (2.7%) patients but only in 5 (5.1%) and 1 (1%) controls. Patients with E2 deficiency had significantly decreased T and DHT serum levels. Use of corticosteroids for 3 of 12 months was associated with lower E2 levels (p < 0.05). Patients with life-time steroids >10 g had lower BMD. 32 (28.8%) patients showed osteoporosis, 55 (49.5%) osteopenia and 24 (21.6%) had normal BMD. Patients with normal or decreased BMD showed no significant difference in their hormonal status. No correlation between markers of bone turnover and sex steroids could be found. ICTP was increased in CD patients (p < 0.001), and patients with osteoporosis had higher ICTP levels than those with normal BMD.
We found an altered hormonal status--i.e. E2 and, to a lesser extent T deficiency--in male CD patients but failed to show an association to bone density or markers of bone turnover. The role of E2 in the negative skeletal balance in males with CD, analogous to E2 deficiency in postmenopausal females, deserves further attention.