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Which measuring site in ankylosing spondylitis is best to detect bone loss and what predicts the decline: results from a 5-year prospective study

Journal article
Authors Anna Deminger
Eva Klingberg
Mattias Lorentzon
Mats Geijer
Jan Göthlin
Martin Hedberg
Eva Rehnberg
Hans Carlsten
Lennart T. H. Jacobsson
Helena Forsblad d'Elia
Published in Arthritis Research & Therapy
Volume 19
Issue 1
Pages 273
ISSN 1478-6362
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Institute of Medicine
Pages 273
Language en
Keywords Ankylosing spondylitis; Osteoporosis; Bone mineral density; Inflammation; Longitudinal study
Subject categories Rheumatology and Autoimmunity


Background: Studies have shown increased prevalence of osteoporosis and increased risk for vertebral fractures in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Measurements of bone mineral density (BMD) in the lumbar spine anterior-posterior (AP) projection may be difficult to interpret due to the ligamentous calcifications, and the lateral projection might be a better measuring site. Our objectives were to investigate BMD changes after 5 years at different measuring sites in patients with AS and to evaluate disease-related variables and medications as predictors for BMD changes. Methods: In a longitudinal study, BMD in Swedish AS patients, 50 +/- 13 years old, was measured with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at the hip, the lumbar spine AP and lateral projections, and the total radius at baseline and after 5 years. Patients were assessed with questionnaires, blood samples, and spinal radiographs for grading of AS-related alterations in the spine with the modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis Spinal Score (mSASSS) and assessment of vertebral fractures by the Genant score. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to investigate predictors for BMD changes. Results: Of 204 patients included at baseline, 168 (82%) were re-examined after 5 years (92 men and 76 women). BMD decreased significantly at the femoral neck and radius and increased significantly at the lumbar spine, both for AP and lateral projections. Mean C-reactive protein during follow-up predicted a decrease in the femoral neck BMD (change in %, beta = -0.15, p = 0.046). Use of bisphosphonates predicted an increase in BMD at all measuring sites (p < 0.001 to 0.013), except for the total radius. Use of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) predicted an increase in AP spinal BMD (beta = 3.15, p = 0.012). Conclusion: The current study (which has a long follow-up, many measuring sites, and is the first to longitudinally assess the lateral projection of the spine in AS patients) surprisingly showed that lateral projection spinal BMD increased. This study suggests that the best site to assess bone loss in AS patients is the femoral neck and that inflammation has an adverse effect, and the use of bisphosphonates and TNFi has a positive effect, on BMD in AS patients.

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