Chronic obstructive lung disease has been reported as a cause of osteoporosis, though whether this association is due to the disease itself or to corticosteroid treatment has not been elucidated. We studied 44 male patients with chronic obstructive lung disease (mean (SD) FEV1 39% (14%) of predicted normal) who were not having long term corticosteroids. No differences in a vertebral deformity score or in metacarpal index were found between them and a control group of similar age. Indices of bone formation (serum osteocalcin) and bone resorption (urinary hydroxyproline) were normal and parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D were also normal. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was decreased, indicating depleted vitamin D. Calcitonin concentrations were higher in the patient than in the control group of the same age. There was no increase in the prevalence of osteoporosis in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease who had not received long term corticosteroid treatment. Increased concentrations of calcitonin may protect the skeleton from the detrimental effect of hypovitaminosis D.
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