Brittle bones

Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 52 733 140 at 3.26pm on Wednesday July 2

HIV-positive patients have lower levels of a protein associated with bone density, according to a small Brazilian study published in the July 4 edition of AIDS.

Decreased bone density in HIV-positive individuals is thought to be caused by the HIV infection and treatment with protease inhibitors may reduce bone mineral density.

The Brazilian investigators wished to establish the effects of HIV infection on the levels of osteocalcin, a protein associated with bone formation.

Reduced osteocalcin levels were found in 43,5% of the HIV-positive patients and 16% of the uninfected controls. Though the three groups of HIV-positive patients had significantly different CD4 cell counts and HIV viral loads, osteocalcin levels were not significantly different.

The investigators suggest that these osteocalcin abnormalities may well lead in time to clinically significant bone loss and have called for further studies to assess the magnitude of bone and mineral alterations in HIV-infected patients.


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