Ferraù F, Giovinazzo S, Alessi Y, Catalano A, Tessitore A, Mormina E, Bellone F, Giuffrida G, Paola G, Cotta OR, Ragonese M, Granata F, Lania AG, Mazziotti G, Cannavò S.
Objective: Prediction of fragility fractures in Cushing syndrome (CS) is a challenge since dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) does not capture all the alterations in bone microstructure induced by glucocorticoid excess. In this study we investigated the relationship between trabecular bone score (TBS), bone marrow fat (BMF) and vertebral fractures (VFs) in endogenous CS.
Methods: Thirty subjects (7 M and 23 F, mean age 44.8 ± 13.4 yrs, range: 25-71) with active hypercortisolism were evaluated for VFs by quantitative morphometry, BMD and TBS by lumbar spine DXA and BMF by single-voxel magnetic resonance spectroscopy of vertebral body of L3.
Results: Subjects with VFs (17 cases; 56.7%) had higher BMF (P = 0.014) and lower BMD T-score (P = 0.012) and TBS (P = 0.004) as compared to those without VFs. Prevalence of VFs resulted to be significantly higher in individuals with impaired TBS as compared to those with normal TBS (77.8% vs. 25.0%; P = 0.008). Among patients with VFs, only 6 (35.3%) had either osteoporosis or "low BMD for age". In logistic regression analysis, impaired TBS maintained the significant association with VFs [odds ratio (OR) 6.60, 95% C.I. 1.07-40.61; P = 0.042] independently of BMF (OR 1.03, 95% C.I. 0.99-1.08; P = 0.152).
Conclusions: TBS might be more accurate than BMF in identifying subjects with active CS and skeletal fragility at risk of VFs.
Significance statement: Excess in glucocorticoids is associated with alterations in bone remodeling and metabolism, leading to fragility fractures regardless of bone mineral density, making more challenging for the clinician the identification of high-risk population and the definition of preventing strategies. In this context, instrumental parameters suggestive of bone quality alterations and predictive of increased fracture risk are needed. In this study, we found CS patients to have bone quality alterations as indicated by the decreased trabecular bone score and increased bone marrow fat, as measured by DEXA and MRI respectively. Both parameters were associated with high risk of VFs, and were inversely correlated, although TBS seems to be more accurate than BMF in fractures prediction in this clinical setting.