Biologic and therapeutic determinants of bone mineral density in multiple myeloma

M. V. Dhodapkar, R. Weinstein, G. Tricot, S. Jagannath, A. M. Parfitt, S. C. Manolagas, B. Barlogie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The net impact of malignancy and anti-tumor therapy on bone resorption in myeloma is poorly understood because conventional skeletal radiographs are relatively insensitive for the diagnosis and monitoring of bone disease. We performed determinations of bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine, femoral neck and radial diaphysis by dual energy X ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in 168 consecutive patients with myeloma seen at our institution. Follow up studies were performed in 41 of these patients. A detailed analysis of patient and disease characteristics was performed to identify the determinants of BMD. Compared to normal age and sex matched controls. mean (± SE) BMD was significantly decreased at the lumbar spine (Z score -0.4 ± 0.10) and femoral neck (Z score -1.0 ± 0.10), but was surprisingly above normal at the radial diaphysis (Z score + 0.35 ± 0.10), a cortical bone site devoid of hematopoietic marrow, suggesting a differential bone preserving effect at this site. Lack of correlation between the BMD findings and the presence or extent of radiographically evident osteolytic lesions suggested the presence of a systemic bone disease. On multivariate analysis, duration of disease > 12 months (p = 0.003) and female sex (p = 0.01) were independently associated with a lower BMD at the femoral neck/lumbar spine. On follow up DEXA (n = 41), BMD increased at ≥ 1 site in 9 of 20 patients receiving bisphosphonates and in only 2 of 21 patients not receiving such therapy (p = 0.02). Similarly a decline in BMD at ≥ 1 site was seen in 9 of 21 patients not receiving bisphosphonates, irrespective of the disease response status. Interval pamidronate therapy (p = 0.0007) and a low serum beta-2-microglobulin (< 2.5 mg/l) (p = 0.04) were the two most significant variables associated with an increase in BMD on multivariate analysis. These data suggest that myeloma is associated with a systemic bone disease with progressive generalized cancellous bone loss and a bone preserving effect on the radial cortical bone. The early use of bisphosphonates may improve myeloma related bone disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta 2 microglobulin
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Bone mineral density
  • Corticosteroids


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