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Osteoporosis in cirrhotics before and after liver transplantation: relation with malnutrition and inflammatory status

Huldén E1Castedal M2Karlsson MK1Kalaitzakis E3,4,5Swärd P1.

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2020 Mar;55(3):354-361. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2020.1735507. Epub 2020 Mar 17.



Background: Liver cirrhosis is associated with osteoporosis and liver transplantation (LT) with increased bone loss. This study aimed to in LT candidates investigate the potential relation between bone mineral density (BMD) and BMD loss in those who undergo LT, with malnutrition, systemic inflammation, and hormonal status.

Methods: We included 102 consecutively recruited cirrhotic LT candidates between May 2004 and April 2007. BMD was assessed by means of dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Malnutrition was defined by means of anthropometry and assessment of recent weight loss. In 75/102 patients, serum-thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free triiodthyronine (T3) and free thyroxine (T4) and growth hormone (GH), cortisol, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, estradiol, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α was assessed. Overall 57/102 patients received a LT and 47/102 were followed for one year post-LT. At follow-up, nutritional status and BMD were assessed in all patients (n = 47) while 34/47 had available blood samples for analysis.

Results: Forty (40%) LT- candidates had osteopenia or osteoporosis and 34 (38%) were malnourished. Malnutrition was associated with osteopenia/osteoporosis (odds ratio: 3.5, 95% CI 1.4, 9.9). Hip BMD Z-score decreased -0.25 (95% CI -0.41, -0.09) from baseline to one year post-LT. High baseline TNF-α correlated with a more marked decline in BMD (Partial correlation (r) = -0.47, p < .05) as did high baseline cortisol levels (r = -0.49, p < .05).

Conclusion: Malnutrition in liver cirrhosis seems to be associated with osteopenia/osteoporosis, and systemic inflammation (higher TNF-α) and systemic stress (higher cortisol) to bone loss in patients who undergo LT.