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Some Osteoporosis May Be Due To An Autoimmune Disorder

Results of recent study revealed at 2012 ECTS Annual Congress, Stockholm, Sweden, 19-23 May

May 22, 2012, Stockholm, Sweden. Press Dispensary. According to a recent study by specialists from the University of Edinburgh and University of East Anglia, UK, screening patients for a particular type of antibody may be key to identifying those who have a form of severe osteoporosis due to an autoimmune disorder.

Following a previous known case of a patient with autoimmune disease and severe osteoporosis, caused by neutralising antibodies to osteoprotegerin (OPG)*, the study aimed to determine if OPG antibodies are also detectable in patients with osteoporosis whose cause is unknown.

The research team developed a direct capture ELISA assay using 96 well plates coated with recombinant OPG. Patient serum was added to each well with unbound antibody removed by serial washes. Bound antibodies were detected with peroxidase conjugated anti-human antibody. The team studied 20 normal controls and 243 consecutive patients attending a secondary referral centre for osteoporosis.

The study found that a total of 18 of the 243 osteoporotic patients (7.4%) had elevated titres of OPG autoantibodies (values >3SD above the mean in normal controls). These patients had more severe osteoporosis and were more likely to have suffered a vertebral fracture than those with normal antibody levels (normal mean +/- 3 SD). No association was observed between having high levels of antibody and a previous history of autoimmune disease or other established risk factors for osteoporosis.

Philip Riches, of the Rheumatology Department, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Edinburgh, says:
"Our study found that OPG autoantibodies can be detected in some patients with osteoporosis, even though they don’t have an autoimmune disease, and that the osteoporosis in those patients was more severe. Screening for OPG autoantibodies may help in defining a particular subgroup of patients with severe osteoporosis and could lead to developing an appropriate treatment for them."

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Notes for editors
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About the study
Headed up by P. Riches, T. Gilchrist and S.H. Ralston of the Rheumatology Department, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Edinburgh, UK, and, W.D. Fraser of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, the study aimed to determine if OPG antibodies are detectable in patients with idiopathic osteoporosis.

About the Congress
Taking place in Stockholm on 19-23 May, 2012, the 39th ECTS Annual Congress 2012 is Europe's key annual bone science event. The programme includes: symposium workshops covering bone biology and clinical research; results of the latest scientific research; clinical update sessions and a session dedicated to new investigators in the field.

About the ECTS
The European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) is the major organisation in Europe for researchers and clinicians working in the field of calcified tissues and related fields. ECTS acts as a forum for the dissemination of high quality research through its annual meeting, the European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, and through training courses and workshops.

Calcified tissues are central to a healthy skeleton and to bone disorders - such as osteoporosis, back pain and fractures - that make life a misery for countless people. Children can inherit some forms of bone diseases causing bone pain, shortness and deformed limbs.

ECTS 2013, celebrating the society's 50th year, will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 18-21 May 2013

For further information, please contact:
Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS)
Tel: + 32 476 520 716

Conference site:

Media contacts

Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
Tel: + 32 476 520 716

Conference site:

osteoporosis immune disorders autoimmune bone disorders ECTS Annual Congress Stockholm conference