This study was performed to determine the effects of high doses of two inhaled corticosteroids, beclomethasone dipropionate and budesonide, on biochemical indices of bone turnover (urinary hydroxyproline:creatine and calcium:creatinine ratios, plasma alkaline phosphatase, and parathyroid hormone). Twelve healthy male doctors, aged 25-36 (mean 30) years, were studied. After a week's run in period eight subjects inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate 2000 micrograms/day and eight inhaled budesonide 1800 micrograms/day for 28 days; this was followed by a week without any treatment. During treatment with beclomethasone dipropionate there was a significant increase in the hydroxyproline:creatinine ratio (a 46% increase at 28 days), and a fall in serum alkaline phosphatase activity (a 7.4% fall at 28 days). There were no significant changes during budesonide treatment. Thus high dose inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate increased biochemical markers of bone resorption and reduced serum alkaline phosphatase, a marker of bone mineralisation. A prospective study in asthmatic patients is indicated to assess the long term effects of high dose inhaled corticosteroids on bone mass.
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