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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 15, Issue 5, Pages 302-307
Original Article

Normal Parathyroid Function with Decreased Bone Mineral Density in Treated Celiac Disease

Bernard Lemieux,1 Michel Boivin,1 Jean-Hugues Brossard,1 Raymond Lepage,2 Daniel Picard,3 Louise Rousseau,1 and Pierre D’Amour1

1Centre de recherche, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal – Hôpital Saint-Luc, Départements de médecine, Canada
2Centre de recherche, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal – Hôpital Saint-Luc, Départements de biochimie, Canada
33médecine nucléaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Received 20 July 2000; Accepted 9 March 2001

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Decreased bone mineral density (BMD) has been reported in patients with celiac disease in association with secondary hyperparathyroidism. The present study investigated whether basal parathyroid hormone (PTH) remained elevated and whether abnormalities of parathyroid function were still present in celiac disease patients treated with a gluten-free diet. Basal seric measurements of calcium and phosphate homeostasis and BMD were obtained in 17 biopsy-proven patients under treatment for a mean period of 5.7±3.7 years (range 1.1 to 15.9). In addition, parathyroid function was studied with calcium chloride and sodium citrate infusions in seven patients. Basal measurements of patients were compared with those of 26 normal individuals, while parathyroid function results were compared with those of seven sex- and age-matched controls. Basal results were similar in patients and controls except for intact PTH (I-PTH) (3.77±0.88 pmol/L versus 2.28±0.63 pmol/L, P<0.001), which was higher in the former group but still within normal limits. Mean 25-hydroxy vitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D values were normal in patients. Parathyroid function results were also found to be similar in both groups. Compared with a reference population of the same age (Z score), patients had significantly lower BMDs of the hip (-0.60±0.96 SDs, P<0.05) and lumbar spine (-0.76±1.15 SDs, P<0.05). T scores were also decreased for the hip (-1.3±0.9 SDs, P<0.0001) and lumbar spine (-1.4±1.35 SDs, P<0.0001), with two to three patients being osteoporotic (T score less than -2.5 SDs) and seven to eight osteopenic (T score less than -1 SDs but greater than or equal to -2.5 SDs) in at least one site. Height and weight were the only important determinants of BMD values by multivariate or logistical regression analysis in these patients. The results show higher basal I-PTH values with normal parathyroid function in treated celiac disease. Height and weight values are, but I-PTH values are not, an important determinant of the actual bone mass of patients. Normal parathyroid function in treated patients suggests a lack of previous severe secondary hyperparathyroidism and/or complete adaptation to prior changes in parathyroid function.