Celiac.com 11/13/2013 - Dermatitis herpetiformis is the cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease. Both celiac and dermatitis herpetiformis are diseases of gluten-sensitivity.

Photo: CC--_chrisUKPeople with celiac disease, even with asymptomatic forms, often experience reduced bone density from metabolic bone disease. This led scientists to ask if dermatitis herpetiformis results in bone loss as celiac disease does.

However, there is very little data about bone density in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, so that question remained unanswered.

To find an answer, a team of researchers recently set out to compare bone mineral density (BMD) of people with celiac disease against bone mineral density for dermatitis herpetiformis patients.

The research team included K. Lorinczy, M. Juhász, M. Csontos, B. Fekete, O. Terjék, P.L. Lakatos, P. Miheller, D. Kocsis, S. Kárpáti, Z. Tulassay, and T. Zágoni.

The team looked at 34 people with celiac disease, 53 with dermatitis herpetiformis, and 42 healthy people as a control group. The average patient age was 38.0 +/- 12.1 for the celiac disease group, 32.18 +/- 14.95 for the dermatitis herpetiformis group, and 35.33 +/- 10.41 years for the healthy control group.

For each group, the team used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure bone mineral density of the lumbar spine, the left femoral neck and radius.

The team defined low bone density, osteopenia and osteoporosis as a body mass density (BMD) T-score between 0 and -1, between -1 and -2.5, and under -2.5, respectively.

In the lumbar region, the team found decreased BMD in 49% of the patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, in 62% of the patients with celiac disease, and in 29% of healthy control subjects.

Overall, they measured lower BMD at the lumbar region in people with dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease than in the healthy subjects (0.993 +/- 0.136 g/cm2 and 0.880 +/- 0.155 g/cm2 vs. 1.056 +/- 0.126 g/cm2; p < 0.01).

There was no difference in density of bones composed of dominantly cortical compartment (femoral neck) in dermatitis herpetiformis and healthy subjects.

This study shows that low bone mass is common in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, and that bone mineral density for these patients is significantly lower in those bones with more trabecular than cortical composition.

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