Diabetes Weakens Bones
November 13, 2013

Diabetes Linked To Weaker Bones

Rebekah Eliason for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Type 2 diabetes causes a myriad of debilitating complications. The long list includes vascular and heart disease, eye problems, nerve damage, kidney disease, hearing problems and even Alzheimer's disease. Doctors have suspected for a while that osteoporosis may be another complication to add to the list. Now, a new study from the Mayo Clinic has confirmed that skeletal degeneration can now be associated with diabetes.

Sundeep Khosla, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and senior author of the study said, “This is the first demonstration — using direct measurement of bone strength in the body — of compromised bone material in patients with type 2 diabetes. Clearly, the skeleton needs to be recognized as another important target of diabetes complications.”

Previously, research showed that a diabetic patients bones fracture at bone density levels higher than the regular population. This was an indication to researchers that there was a different 'quality' to diabetic bones.

The Mayo Clinic study confirmed this suspicion through a clinical study that included 60 postmenopausal women. Of the participants, 30 women had type 2 diabetes. A new tool called an OsteoProbe® was used to create microscopic cracks in the bone. This innovative technique is called micro indentation testing of the tibia and measures bone material strength.

When compared to the control group, those with type 2 diabetes exhibited a significantly lower bone material strength. However, the microarchitecture of the bones or bone density was not significantly different between the two groups. This research showed that the diabetic women who displayed lower bone material strength also had high levels of hyperglycemia within the ten previous years, which indicated that poor glucose control has detrimental effects on bone quality.

This study sends the message that the risk of fracture for patients with type 2 diabetes has been greatly underestimated. The loss of bone material strength or bone quality is a clear result of suffering from the disease. Co-author and rheumatologist Shreyasee Amin, M.D. explained that the new technique may be beneficial in studying other types of situations where bone fractures are seen at a higher rate than expected based on bone density. She also said this will be especially relevant to many forms of autoimmune arthritis where glucocorticoids are used, such as in rheumatoid arthritis.

The research team noted that this was a small study and performed among a limited population so further research is important. This study was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.