The usefulness of bone turnover markers in Gaucher disease is still unclear and their utility in monitoring the effects of enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) on bone metabolism has not yet been investigated exhaustively. Skeletal involvement seems to improve slowly during ERT, but only a few studies evaluating bone mineral density (BMD) changes during a long follow-up period have been reported. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of ERT on bone involvement in a group of 12 type I Gaucher disease (GD I) patients by monitoring biochemical indices of bone resorption/formation and BMD measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Serum (calcium, phosphorus, bone alkaline phosphatase isoenzyme, carboxyterminal propeptide of type I procollagen (PICP), carboxyterminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP), osteocalcin, intact parathyroid hormone) and urinary (calcium, phosphorus, hydroxyproline and free deoxypyridinoline) markers of bone metabolism and lumbar BMD were measured at baseline, after 6 and 12 months, and then every year for a mean ERT follow-up period of 4.5 years (range 4.4-6 years). Twelve healthy adult subjects matched for age and sex were tested as negative controls. A significant decrease of PICP was detected in the patient group at baseline (mean value 100.52 ng/ml vs 142.45 ng/ml, p = 0.017), while ICTP was remarkably higher: mean value 3.93 ng/ml vs 2.72 ng/ml, p = 0.004 (two-sided Student's t-test). No changes in bone formation indices were observed during the follow-up period, while urinary calcium excretion increased significantly from 0.065 to 0.191 mg/mg creatinine (p = 0.0014) (repeated measures ANOVA). A significant BMD improvement was also detected after an average ERT period of 4.5 years: Z-score increased from -0.81 to -0.56 (p = 0.005) (two-sided Student's t-test). These data evidenced the ineffectiveness of the biochemical markers used in monitoring ERT efficacy in GD I skeletal involvement, whereas DEXA was demonstrated to be a reliable method with which to follow up BMD improvement.
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