Bone and celiac disease

M. L. Bianchi, M. T. Bardella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Celiac disease is an intestinal disease due to an abnormal immuno-mediated response to gluten and other peptides from different cereals in genetically susceptible subjects. Several systemic alterations, including bone alterations, may be present in affected subjects. Once considered rare, it is now known to be quite frequent in both Europe and North America, as the recent availability of specific serological markers has drastically changed our perspective on its prevalence. The diagnosis of celiac disease may be very difficult because the clinical picture is highly variable and the characteristic intestinal signs and symptoms may be completely absent. Among the extra-intestinal alterations, bone mass decrease and bone metabolism derangement are frequently present and can be the only signs of an otherwise silent celiac disease. Clinical and epidemiological data are now plentiful but no conclusive data on the pathogenesis of bone involvement in celiac disease are available yet. Bone alterations were once thought to derive from calcium and vitamin D deficiency secondary to simple intestinal malabsorption, but now a more complex interaction between cytokines and local/systemic factors influencing bone formation and reabsorption is envisaged, Also, there is now substantial evidence supporting a lifelong gluten-free diet as the first-choice therapy for celiac disease, and as far as we know, this is the only effective measure to restore bone metabolism to an apparent normality. In the young, an early-started gluten-free diet can even lead to a satisfactory recovery of bone mass. In adults, however, there is no spontaneous recovery, and there are no conclusive data on the efficacy of standard therapies for osteoporosis in reducing the fracture risk. For these reasons, we feel that a review of the clinical findings on bone problems in celiac disease may be useful for both gastroenterologists and osteoporosis specialists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-471
Number of pages7
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Bone fragility fractures
  • Celiac disease
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Malabsorption
  • Osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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