Prevalence and Progression of Osteoporosis in Patients With COPD

Results From the Towards a Revolution in COPD Health Study


      Osteoporosis is common in patients with COPD, but its prevalence and progression are not well characterized. Concerns have been raised over the possible deleterious effect of long-term therapy with inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) on bone density in this population. Here, we investigated the long-term effects of therapy with fluticasone propionate (FP) alone, salmeterol (SAL) alone, and a SAL/FP combination (SFC) on bone mineral density (BMD) and bone fractures in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD in the TOwards a Revolution in COPD Health (TORCH) study.


      A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study conducted at 88 US centers involving 658 patients (a subset of 6,184 international subjects in TORCH). Therapy with placebo, SAL (50 μg), FP (500 μg), or SFC (SAL 50 μg/FP 500 μg) twice daily was administered for 3 years. Baseline and yearly measurements of BMD at the hip and lumbar spine were performed. The incidence of traumatic and nontraumatic bone fractures was recorded.


      At baseline, 18% of men and 30% of women had osteoporosis, and 42% of men and 41% of women had osteopenia based on BMD assessments. Forty-three percent of subjects completed all testing. The changes in BMD at the hip and lumbar spine over 3 years were small. No significant differences were observed between treatment arms (adjusted mean percent change from baseline at hip was −3.1% for placebo, −1.7% for SAL, −2.9% for FP, and −3.2% for SFC therapy, respectively; while, the corresponding changes for the lumbar spine were 0, 1.5%, −0.3%, and −0.3% for placebo, respectively, SAL, FP, and SFC therapy). The incidence of fractures was low and was similar for all treatments (5.1% to 6.3%).


      Osteoporosis is highly prevalent in patients with COPD, irrespective of gender. In the TORCH study, no significant effect on BMD was detected for ICS therapy compared with placebo.

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      Linked Article

      • Thinning Bone and Inhaled Corticosteroid in COPD: What To Do Until There Is Definitive Proof?
        CHESTVol. 136Issue 6
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          COPD is an inflammatory condition of the lung, and, over the past decade, it has been increasingly recognized for its systemic inflammation and extrapulmonary manifestations.1 The levels of common proinflammatory molecules, such as interleukin 1, interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor α, and C-reactive protein, are elevated in the blood, and some proinflammatory molecules are present in large amounts in the lung tissues or BAL fluid.1 Whereas osteoporosis is multifactorial in its etiology, it is most commonly seen in individuals who are elderly, have chronic illnesses, or have chronic systemic inflammation.
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