Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Glucocorticoid use has been associated with an increased fracture risk and reduced bone mineral density (BMD), particularly in the trabecular compartment. However the contribution of the underlying inflammatory disease process to these outcomes is poorly understood. Childhood nephrotic syndrome (NS) typically follows a relapsing-remitting course often requiring recurrent courses of glucocorticoids, but with low systemic inflammation during remission. NS therefore represents a useful clinical model to investigate the effects of glucocorticoids on BMD and bone geometry in childhood. METHODS: Children with NS were compared to age and sex matched healthy controls. Body composition and areal BMD (whole body, lumbar spine and hip) were assessed by DXA. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) scans were obtained at metaphyseal (4%) and diaphyseal (66%) sites of the tibia to determine volumetric BMD and bone cross-sectional geometry. Lifetime cumulative glucocorticoid exposure was calculated from medical records. RESULTS: 29 children with NS (55% male, age 10.7±3.1years) were compared to 29 healthy controls (55% male, age 11.0±3.0years). The children with NS were of similar height SDS to controls (p=0.28), but were heavier (0.65±1.28SDS vs -0.04±0.89SDS, p=0.022) and had greater body fat percentage SDS (0.31±1.01 vs -0.52±1.10, p=0.008). Tibial trabecular and cortical vBMD were similar between the two groups but bone cross-sectional area (CSA) was significantly greater in children with NS at both the metaphysis (954±234mm(2) vs 817±197mm(2), p=0.002) and diaphysis (534.9±162.7mm(2) vs 463.2±155.5mm(2), p=0.014). Endosteal and periosteal circumferences were greater in children with NS than controls (both p<0.01), resulting in reduced cortical thickness (2.4±0.7mm vs 2.8±0.7mm, p=0.018), but similar cortical CSA (p=0.22). The differences in cortical geometry were not statistically significant when weight was included as a confounding factor. There were no associations between cumulative steroid exposure, duration of NS or number of relapses and any bone parameter. CONCLUSIONS: Tibial bone CSA is increased in children with NS. We speculate that this is a compensatory response to increased body weight. Defects in trabecular BMD were not identified in this cohort of children with NS.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





108 - 113


Bone geometry, Bone mineral density, Glucocorticoids, Nephrotic syndrome, pQCT, Absorptiometry, Photon, Bone Density, Case-Control Studies, Child, Diaphyses, Female, Humans, Male, Nephrotic Syndrome, Tibia, Tomography, X-Ray Computed