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Coeliac bone loss link found

8th October 2009

UK-based scientists suggest that people with coeliac disease may be more susceptible to osteoporosis because their own immune system attacks their bone tissue.

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A team from the University of Edinburgh, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, believe that coeliac patients produce antibodies which attack a protein that maintains bone health.

With osteoporosis a known risk of coeliac disease - and explained by a failure to absorb calcium or vitamin D – researchers say drugs to prevent bone loss could be the answer.

Coeliac disease, caused by a reaction to gluten, affects one in 100 people.

Scientists say a protein called osteoprotegerin may hold the key to the link between coeliac disease and osteoporosis.

The research team tested coeliac patients and found that in 20% of them, antibodies were produced which stopped this protein which helps maintain bone strength, from working effectively.

Lead researcher Professor Stuart Ralston said: "Not only have we discovered a new reason to explain why osteoporosis occurs in coeliac disease, but we have also found that it responds very well to drugs that prevent bone tissue removal.

Coeliac UK said the breakthrough could help in understanding and treatment of the condition.

Dr Claire Bowring, medical policy officer with the National Osteoporosis Society said it was already established that coeliac disease was a risk factor for osteoporosis and that early diagnosis and treatment gave the best chance of improving bone density.

"A better understanding of the relationship between coeliac disease and osteoporosis will enable clinicians to manage both conditions more effectively,” she added.


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Article Information

Title: Coeliac bone loss link found
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 12852
Date Added: 8th Oct 2009


BBC News

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