• PQCT;
  • BMD;


The impact of glucocorticoids (GC) on skeletal development has not been established. The objective of this study was to examine changes in volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and cortical structure over 1 year in childhood nephrotic syndrome (NS) and to identify associations with concurrent GC exposure and growth. Fifty-six NS participants, aged 5 to 21 years, were enrolled a median of 4.3 (0.5 to 8.1) years after diagnosis. Tibia peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) scans were obtained at enrollment and 6 and 12 months later. Sex, race, and age-specific Z-scores were generated for trabecular vBMD (TrabBMD-Z), cortical vBMD (CortBMD-Z), and cortical area (CortArea-Z) based on >650 reference participants. CortArea-Z was further adjusted for tibia length-for-age Z-score. Quasi-least squares regression was used to identify determinants of changes in pQCT Z-scores. At enrollment, mean TrabBMD-Z (−0.54 ± 1.32) was significantly lower (p = 0.0001) and CortBMD-Z (0.73 ± 1.16, p < 0.0001) and CortArea-Z (0.27 ± 0.91, p = 0.03) significantly greater in NS versus reference participants, as previously described. Forty-eight (86%) participants were treated with GC over the study interval (median dose 0.29 mg/kg/day). On average, TrabBMD-Z and CortBMD-Z did not change significantly over the study interval; however, CortArea-Z decreased (p = 0.003). Greater GC dose (p < 0.001), lesser increases in tibia length (p < 0.001), and lesser increases in CortArea-Z (p = 0.003) were independently associated with greater increases in CortBMD-Z. Greater increases in tibia length were associated with greater declines in CortArea-Z (p < 0.01); this association was absent in reference participants (interaction p < 0.02). In conclusion, GC therapy was associated with increases in CortBMD-Z, potentially related to suppressed bone formation and greater secondary mineralization. Conversely, greater growth and expansion of CortArea-Z (ie, new bone formation) were associated with declines in CortBMD-Z. Greater linear growth was associated with impaired expansion of cortical area in NS. Studies are needed to determine the fracture implications of these findings. © 2013 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.