Bone Health in Patients With Liver Diseases.


Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in chronic liver disease (CLD) resulting in frequent fractures and leading to significant morbidity in this population. In addition to patients with cirrhosis and chronic cholestasis, patients with CLD from other etiologies may be affected in the absence of cirrhosis. The mechanism of osteoporosis in CLD varies according to etiology, but in cirrhosis and cholestatic liver disease it is driven primarily by decreased bone formation, which differs from the increased bone resorption seen in postmenopausal osteoporosis. Direct toxic effects from iron and alcohol play a role in hemochromatosis and alcoholic liver disease, respectively. Chronic inflammation also has been proposed to mediate bone disease in viral hepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Treatment trials specific to osteoporosis in CLD are small, confined to primary biliary cholangitis and post-transplant patients, and have not consistently demonstrated a benefit in this population. As it stands, prevention of osteoporosis in CLD relies on the mitigation of risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use, treatment of underlying hypogonadism, and encouraging a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise. The primary medical intervention for the treatment of osteoporosis in CLD remains bisphosphonates though a benefit in terms of fracture reduction has never been shown. This review outlines what is known regarding the pathogenesis of bone disease in CLD and summarizes current and emerging therapies.