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Minerva Medica 2006 April;97(2):191-203


language: Italian

Reproduction, endocrine disorders and celiac disease: risk factors of osteoporosis

Stazi A. V. 1, Trinti B. 2, 3

1 Reparto di Tossicologia Genetica Dipartimento Ambiente e connessa Prevenzione Primaria Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Roma 2 Istituto di Ingegneria Biomedica CNR, Roma 3 Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Patologia Università La Sapienza, Roma


In genetically predisposed individuals, celiac disease (CD) is permanent intolerance to gluten. Besides the overt enteropathy, there are clinical and subclinical forms which appear later in life; target organs include liver, thyroid, skin and reproductive systems. CD interference is related to the different concurrent genetic-environmental factors, showing multifactorial nature. CD induces malabsorption with consequent deficiencies of micronutrients essential for organogenesis, spermatogenesis and bone structure, such as vitamin D and calcium. In fact, among extraintestinal manifestations of CD, osteoporosis deserves attention because it can be a sign of silent CD. In celiac patients’ serum, cytochinic imbalance related to bone loss is present; in vitro these sera act on the osteoblastic activity. The IL-1b is also present in celiac patients’ relatives, confirming the genetic predisposition to its etiopathogenesis which is also regulated by endocrine-environmental factors. In females, CD acts indirectly on the bone, determining early menopause and amenorrhea. Even frequent pregnancies and long periods of lactation can bring to bone loss; in such periods, silent CD can appear, suggesting the presence of endocrine-immunology factors. In celiac males, osteoporosis presence, besides calcium and vitamin D deficiencies, is associated to growth hormone deficit and hypogonadism, which is related to hyperprolactinemia, endocrine factors which affect the reproduction. Osteoporosis is relevant among the elderly and vitamin D and calcium supplementations are important to people diagnosed with CD later in life. Thus, to prevent damages such as osteoporosis, early CD screening among people with reproductive problems is necessary.

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