Favorable “Break”through Data for Proton Pump Inhibitors and Bone Density

Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of state, Cordell Hull, wrote: “A lie will gallop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on.”

This saying came to my mind as I read a recent study (KE Hansen et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 926-34) titled: “Dexlansoprazole and esomeprazole do not affect bone homeostasis in healthy postmenopausal women.”

In this study, the authors performed a prospective double-blind study with 115 healthy postmenopausal women who were treated with one of these two PPIs or placebo daily for 26 weeks.

Key findings:

  • PPI therapy did not reduce true fractional calcium absorption
  • There were no significant difference between groups in serum or urine levels of minerals, bone mineral density, or parathyroid hormone

Previous studies have found conflicting results of PPIs on bone density.  Studies suggesting that PPIs could affect bone density have been questioned due to “low odds ratios (<2), lack of dose response, biological implausibility, and uncontrolled potential confounders.”  The authors note that they chose bone turnover rather than changes in BMD as a primary outcome as bone turnover precede changes in BMD and should serve as an early marker of adverse effects.

My take: This study, while short in duration and with limited numbers of participants found no harmful effects of PPIs on skeletal health.

Related blog posts:

Tajo River, Toledo Spain

Are Long-Term Liver Transplant Survivors Destined to Have Low Bone Density? (No)

Briefly noted: A recent study (L Ee et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 797-801) provides some good news for children who have had liver transplantation (LTx).

Among 42 patients (64% with biliary atresia) who had undergone LTx at a median age of 2.2 years and were long-term survivors (median time since LTx 10.1 yrs), mean bone mineral density (BMD) were normal.  Lumbar BMD z-score -0.15 and total body BMD -0.76.  Pathologic fractures were noted in 2 patients; these occurred within 18 months of transplantation.

My take: this study indicates that over time, most patients are not likely to have very low bone density.

Bone Health and Intestinal Failure

Link: Bone Health of Children with Intestinal Failure (Thanks to Kipp Ellsworth for this reference) E Neelis et al. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2017.02.014

From Abstract:


A retrospective study was performed including all children with IF between 2000 and 2015 who underwent a DXA measurement and/or a hand radiograph. Z-scores of BMD total body (BMD TB) and lumbar spine (BMD LS), bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) and bone health index (BHI) were collected. A low BMD and low BHI were defined as a Z-score ≤ -2. DXA and DXR results were compared for cases in which a DXA and hand radiograph were performed within a 6 months’ interval.


Forty-six children were included. Overall, 24.3% of the children had a low BMD at the first DXA at a median age of 6 years; correction for growth failure (n=6)) reduced this to 16.2%. Fifty percent had a low BHI at the first hand radiograph. Median DXA and BHI Z-scores were significantly lower than reference scores. Age, duration of PN and surgical IF were related to lower Z-scores at the first DXA. Paired DXA and DXR results (n=18) were compared, resulting in a Cohen’s kappa of 0.746 (‘substantial’) for BMD TB. Spearman’s correlation coefficient for BHI and BMD TB Z-scores was 0.856 (p<0.001). Hand radiography had a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 86% (BMD TB).


Up to 50% of the children had a low BMD. Children with IF have a significantly poorer bone health than the reference population, also after weaning off PN. Bone health assessment by DXA and DXR showed good agreement, especially for Z-scores ≤ -2. DXR assessment using BoneXpert software seems to be feasible for monitoring of bone health in children with IF.


The Prosecution Rests…PPIs on Trial

For physicians who use proton pump inhibitors in a cavalier manner, a recent review (CM Stark, CM Nylund. J Pediatr 168: 16-22) provides a sobering reassessment of the potential side effects and potential complications of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).  After finishing the article, the impression left was of a lawyer putting these medications on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Here were the key points:

Infectious disease: PPI-induced hypochloridia is known to alter the gastrointestinal bacteria motif, allowing certain normally absent or depleted pathogenetic microorganisms to survive and proliferate.  This can lead to all of the following:

  • small bowel bacterial overgrowth
  • increased gastrointestinal infections (including Clostridium difficile, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and acute viral gastroenteritis)
  • pneumonia (particularly community acquired pneumonia and hospital acquired pneumonia)
  • upper respiratory infections
  • spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

The magnitude of these associations is discussed in detail in the review.

Gastrointestinal disease: Use of PPIs has been associated with an increased incidence of the following:

  •  celiac disease which persisted after excluding prescriptions in the year preceding diagnosis (association does not prove causation)
  • benign gastric fundic polyps
  • rebound acid hypersecretion

Malabsorption: PPIs can affect absorption of multiple nutrients, though more studies are needed, particularly in the pediatric age group.

  • calcium: “there is significant evidence to suggest that PPI use can alter calcium and bone metabolism…associated with an increased risk of hip fractures in older adults….It is reasonable to hypothesize that PPI administration during adolescence and early adulthood could decrease an individual’s peak bone density.”
  • magnesium: PPI have been hypothesized to affect magnesium absorption.  “A study of 366 Canadian patients hospitalized with hypomagnesemia…found PPIs [were] associated with a 43% increased risk of hospitalization.”  More studies are needed to determine the whether this risk is truly significant.
  • iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin C absorption may be affected by PPI use.


  • Cardiac: In adults, PPI use has been associated with adverse cardiac events.  The pathophysiology could have been pediatric implications.  PPIs can increase asymmetrical dimethylarginine (ADMA) which is an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase.
  • Renal: PPIs have been associated with cases of acute interstitial nephritis
  • Microbiome: “PPIs alter the microbiome.”  Decreased diversity of the microbiome has been associated with a large number of medical conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, necrotizing enterocolitis as well as many non-gastrointestinal conditions.  “The temporality of dysbiosis and subsequent disease development has  not been explored fully for most conditions.”

My take: PPIs can be life-saving and disease-altering medications.  At the same time, (per authors) “PPIs should not be prescribed without consideration for all short- and long-term side effects.”

Related blog posts:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 6.33.04 PM

This Webinar Will Review Issues with Regard to Optimal PPI Usage and Includes My Esteemed Colleagues (Dr. Gold and Dr. Garza)

This NASPGHAN Webinar Will Review Issues with Regard to Optimal PPI Usage and Includes My Esteemed Partners (Dr. Gold and Dr. Garza)

Celiac Update September 2015

A useful review (CP Kelly et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 148: 1175-86) summarizes the ‘state of the art” information regarding celiac disease presentation and management. The review notes that some expert organization consensus state that intestinal biopsy is mandatory whereas some do not under certain conditions.

According to ESPGHAN, if anti-TTG >10-fold elevated, anti-EMA positive in separate sample, and +HLA typing, then a biopsy may not be required.  For the WGO (World Gastroenterologic Organization), the exception focuses on available local resources.

The article recommends the following for monitoring:

  • Clinical evaluation -annually or if recurrent symptoms
  • Serology & Nutritional evaluation -every 3-6 months until normal, then every 1-2 years.  Common nutrient deficiencies: iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, and zinc
  • Bone density -once within first 2 years.  (Some recommend checking after 1 year on gluten free diet)
  • Liver transaminase levels & Thyroid function tests -at diagnosis, then every 1-2 years.  Autoimmune thyroid disorders are “found in approximately 15-20% of adults with celiac disease”

A second retrospective indicates that ESPGHAN criteria for avoiding biopsy in children and adolescents with high titers for anti-TTG (>10-fold) along with positive EMA, and HLA-DQ2/DQ8.are reasonable.  Here’s the abstract:

Are ESPGHAN “Biopsy-Sparing” Guidelines for Celiac Disease also Suitable for Asymptomatic Patients?

CM Trovato, et al.The American Journal of Gastroenterology , (15 September 2015) | doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.285


In 2012, European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition published novel guidelines on celiac disease (CD) diagnosis. Symptomatic children with serum anti-transglutaminase (anti-tTG) antibody levels ≥10 times upper limit of normal (ULN) could avoid duodenal biopsies after positive HLA test and serum anti-endomysial antibodies (EMAs). So far, both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients with anti-tTG titer <10 times ULN should undergo upper endoscopy with duodenal biopsies to confirm diagnosis. The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of serological tests to diagnose CD in asymptomatic patients.


We retrospectively reviewed data of 286 patients (age range: 10 months to 17 years) with CD diagnosis based on elevated titer of anti-tTG, EMA positivity, and histology. All patients were distinguished between symptomatic and asymptomatic; histological lesions were graded according to the Marsh–Oberhuber (MO) criteria. Fisher exact test was applied to analyze both groups in terms of diagnostic reliability of serological markers.


A total of 196 patients (68.53%) had anti-tTG titers ≥10 times ULN. Among them, a group of 156 patients (79.59%) also had symptoms suggestive of CD (“high-titer” symptomatic); of these, 142 patients (91.02%) showed severe lesion degree (3a, 3b, 3c MO). Conversely, 40 out of 196 patients (20.40%) were asymptomatic (“high-titer” asymptomatic) and 37 patients (92.5%) of them showed severe lesion degree (3a, 3b, 3c MO). No difference in histological damage was found between “high-titer” symptomatic and “high-titer” asymptomatic children (Fisher exact test, P=1.000).


If confirmed in large multicenter prospective studies, the “biopsy-sparing” protocol seems to be applicable to both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with anti-tTG titer ≥10 times ULN, positive EMA, and HLA-DQ2/DQ8.

Related blog posts: