BACKGROUND: Patients with hepatic cirrhosis are at increased risk of bone loss. Recent work on areal bone mineral density has reported contradictory findings. As the assessment of bone microarchitecture is complex, a search was made for correlations with new serum markers of bone turnover. Current data on serum sclerostin levels in patients with increased fracture risk are divergent and to date only one study has examined patients with hepatic cirrhosis. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate serum sclerostin levels and to test for correlations with microarchitecture.
METHODS: This study was performed in 32 patients with recently diagnosed hepatic cirrhosis and 32 controls. The parameters of bone microarchitecture were assessed by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Sclerostin was detected via a new ELISA that detects the active receptor interaction site at loop 2 of the sclerostin core region.
RESULTS: Sclerostin levels were slightly, but not significantly lower in the patient group, compared to controls. In contrast, patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis had significantly lower levels than the controls. A significant correlation with areal bone mineral density (BMD) and trabecular microarchitecture was observed in the patient group. However, there was hardly any correlation between sclerostin and bone microarchitecture in the controls.
CONCLUSION: In hepatic cirrhosis, sclerostin is related to altered bone microarchitecture and lower areal BMD. In alcoholic liver disease, low sclerostin concentrations were seen.