Bone involvement is a common clinical feature in acromegalic patients, though previous studies gave divergent results possibly because of the different gonadal status of the patients studied. To study the influence of estrogen milieu in these patients, we evaluated 23 acromegalic patients with active disease, subdivided into two groups: menstruating and amenorrheal patients, comparable for duration and activity of disease. Forty-two matched women served as controls. Skeletal involvement was studied by measuring: (a) the main biomarkers of bone turnover: serum alkaline phosphatase total activity (AP), bone GLA protein (BGP), serum carboxy-terminal propeptide of type I collagen (PICP), serum type I cross-linked N-telopeptide (ICTP), and urinary pyridinoline and deoxypyridinoline corrected for creatinine (Pyr/Cr, D-Pyr/Cr) and urinary calcium/creatinine ratio (Ca/Cr); (b) bone mineral density (BMD), as measured by quantitative computed tomography both at lumbar spine and distal radius, and by dual X-ray absorptiometry both at lumbar spine and at three femoral sites (Ward's triangle, femoral neck, and great trochanter). AP, BGP, ICTP, Pyr/Cr, D-Pyr/Cr were significantly higher in patients than in controls, independent of the menstrual pattern. Higher PICP levels were found in the whole group and in menstruating acromegalics when compared with control women; no difference was found in amenorrheal patients, who in turn showed higher urinary Ca/Cr values. When patients were considered all together, BMD at spine, femoral neck, and trochanter was higher than in controls. In contrast, when the gonadal status was taking into account and, menstruating and amenorrheal subjects were considered separately, BMD at spine, but not in other sites, was significantly higher in menstruating patients than in controls. In contrast, no difference of BMD values at any site was observed between amenorrheal patients and controls. The mean BMD Z scores allowed us to detect an unequal involvement of different skeletal sites. Our results show that bone turnover is increased in acromegalic women and suggest that GH anabolic effect on bone is more evident in the presence of estrogens and that different skeletal sites may be affected differently by hormone excess.
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