New link found between osteoporosis and coeliac disease

Oct 07, 2009

People with coeliac disease may develop osteoporosis because their immune system attacks their bone tissue, a new study has shown.

It is the first time an - a condition whereby the body can attack itself - has been shown to cause damage to bones directly.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh studied a protein called osteoprotegerin (OPG) in people with coeliac disease - a digestive condition that affects 1 in 100 people.

In healthy people, OPG plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health by controlling the rate at which bone tissue is removed.

The latest research shows that 20 per cent of coeliac patients produce antibodies that attack the OPG protein and stop it working properly. This results in rapid bone destruction and severe .

It was previously thought that osteoporosis - a known complication of coeliac disease -develops in coeliac patients because they cannot properly absorb calcium and vitamin D from their diet. Both nutrients are essential for healthy bone development.

The team found that although this new form of osteoporosis did not respond to calcium and vitamin D supplements, it can be easily treated with drugs that prevent bone loss.

The research is published in the .

Professor Stuart Ralston, of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who led the team, said: "This is a very exciting step forward. Not only have we discovered a new reason to explain why osteoporosis occurs in coeliac disease, but we have also found that it responds very well to drugs that prevent removal. Testing for these antibodies could make a real and important difference to the lives of people with coeliac disease by alerting us to the risk of osteoporosis and helping us find the correct treatment for them."

Source: University of Edinburgh

Explore further: Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The Medical Minute: What is osteoporosis? Why now? Why me?

Jul 29, 2009

Osteoporosis comes from a Latin term which means "holes in the bone." In reality it is a skeletal disease characterized by low bone mineral density and structural deterioration of bone, leading to bone weakness and increased ...

Vaccine trial flags challenge to celiac disease

Apr 03, 2009

An effective clinical treatment for coeliac disease (or gluten intolerance) is the ultimate objective of WEHI clinician scientist, Dr Bob Anderson. This month will see the beginning of a Phase 1 clinical trial for an experimental ...

Crucial hormonal pathway to bone building uncovered

Nov 01, 2008

Scientists have discovered a crucial step in hormone-triggered bone growth, a finding that could lead to new osteoporosis drugs and better bone-building therapies, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

57 minutes ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

59 minutes ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

13 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

19 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

Sep 01, 2014

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments : 0