Muscle Deficits in Rheumatoid Arthritis Contribute to Inferior Cortical Bone Structure and Trabecular Bone Mineral Density.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2017 Sep 15

ISSN Number



<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with muscle loss, osteoporosis, and fracture. We examined associations between skeletal muscle mass, strength, and quality and trabecular and cortical bone deficits in patients with RA and healthy controls.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>Participants, ages 18-75 years, completed whole-body dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) of the tibia to quantify appendicular lean mass and fat mass indices (ALMI, FMI), muscle density at the lower leg, trabecular bone density, and cortical bone thickness. Age-, sex-, and race-specific Z scores were calculated based on distributions in controls. Associations between body composition and pQCT bone outcomes were assessed in patients with RA and controls. Linear regression analyses assessed differences in bone outcomes after considering differences in body mass index (BMI) and body composition.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>The sample consisted of 112 patients with RA (55 men) and 412 controls (194 men). Compared to controls, patients with RA had greater BMI Z score (p &lt; 0.001), lower ALMI Z score after adjustment for FMI (p = 0.02), lower muscle strength Z score (p = 0.01), and lower muscle density Z score (p &lt; 0.001). Among RA, ALMI Z scores were positively associated with trabecular density [β: 0.29 (0.062-0.52); p = 0.01] and cortical thickness [β: 0.33 (0.13-0.53; p = 0.002]. Associations were similar in controls. Bone outcomes were inferior in patients with RA after adjusting for BMI, but similar to controls when adjusting for body composition. Radiographic damage and higher adiponectin levels were independently associated with inferior bone outcomes.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>Patients with RA exhibit deficits in cortical bone structure and trabecular density at the tibia and a preserved functional muscle-bone unit. A loss of mechanical loading may contribute to bone deficits.</p>



Alternate Title

J. Rheumatol.




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