Longitudinal changes in bone metabolism and bone mineral content in children with celiac disease during consumption of a gluten-free diet

Graziano Barera, Sabrina Beccio, Maria Carla Proverbio, Stefano Mora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: A gluten-free diet (GFD) rapidly corrects the bone mineral deficit of children with untreated celiac disease. The mechanisms underlying such changes are still poorly understood. Objective: In a longitudinal study, we monitored changes in bone metabolism during consumption of a GFD. Design: We studied 22 white patients with celiac disease (11 girls) aged 10.5 ± 1.0 y at the time of diagnosis. We compared bone metabolism and bone mass values in these patients with those in 428 healthy white children aged 11.3 ± 0.2 y. Bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (a bone formation index) and N-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (NTx; a bone resorption marker) were measured at the time of diagnosis and after 2, 6, and 12 mo of the GFD. Bone mineral content was measured at the lumbar spine and for the whole skeleton. Results: The bone mineral content of patients was significantly lower than that of control subjects at the time of diagnosis but not after 1 y of the GFD. Serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase concentrations of patients were significantly lower than those of control subjects at the time of diagnosis (P = 0.0064) and increased gradually and significantly during the GFD (ANOVA F = 4.71; P = 0.024). Conversely, patients with untreated disease had significantly higher urinary concentrations of NTx than did healthy control subjects (P <0.0001). Urinary concentrations of NTx were not significantly affected by treatment (P = 0.37). Conclusions: The rate of bone metabolism is altered in children with untreated celiac disease, and these alterations may be the cause of osteopathy. Remarkable changes occur after the initiation of a GFD, and they result in a more balanced equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-154
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004



  • Bone formation
  • Bone mineral density
  • Bone resorption
  • Bone-specific alkaline phosphatase
  • Celiac disease
  • Children
  • Gluten-free diet
  • N-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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