In a study of 56 alcoholics with liver cirrhosis, 18 (32%) had decreased bone density and low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) (2 and 25-OH-D treatment in correcting the metabolic bone disease in alcoholic cirrhosis, the 18 patients were randomized in the following manner, in groups of 6 patients each: Group 1, control (received no supplemental vitamin D treatment); Group 2, given vitamin D2 (50,000 IU p.o.) two to three times weekly, and Group 3, treated with 25-OH-D (20 to 50 mg p.o.) daily as required to attain normal serum 25-OH-D levels. The study period lasted 6 to 12 months (mean, 10.7 months). Initial histomorphometric study of transiliac bone biopsy with double tetracycline labeling in 9 patients in whom biopsy was feasible showed only osteoporosis without evidence of osteomalacia. By the end of the study, serum 25-OH-D levels in the control group (Group 1) raised slightly while showing marked improvement in Groups 2 and 3. Bone density results remained unchanged in control patients but demonstrated a significant increase in both treatment groups. Vitamin D2 and 25-OH-D were equally effective in increasing bone density measurements. Posttreatment biopsies were performed in 3 patients of Group 2 and 2 patients of Group 3. While the histomorphometric results in Group 3 were not conclusive, in Group 2 improvement in static measures of bone remodeling was noted. Osteoporosis is the usual form of bone disease in alcoholic cirrhosis and a response to either vitamin D2 or 25-OH-D treatment is suggested.
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