Bone mineral density in relation to efficacy and side effects of budesonide and prednisolone in Crohn's disease

Erik J. Schoon, Simona Bollani, Peter R. Mills, Eran Israeli, Dieter Felsenberg, Sverker Ljunghall, Tore Persson, Louise Haptén-White, Hans Graffner, Gabriele Bianchi Porro, Morten Vatn, Reinhold W. Stockbrügger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: Osteoporosis frequently occurs in Crohn's disease, often because of corticosteroids. Budesonide as controlled release capsules is a locally acting corticosteroid with low systemic bioavailability. We investigated its effects on bone compared with prednisolone. Methods: In 34 international centers, 272 patients with Crohn's disease involving ileum and/or colon ascendens were randomized to once daily treatment with budesonide or prednisolone for 2 years at doses adapted to disease activity. One hundred eighty-one corticosteroid-free patients had active disease (98 had never received corticosteroids, corticosteroid naive; 83 had received corticosteroids previously, corticosteroid exposed), and 90 had quiescent disease, receiving long-term low doses of corticosteroids, corticosteroid-dependent; in 1 patient, no efficacy data were obtained. Bone mineral density and fractures were assessed in a double-blinded fashion; disease activity, side effects, and quality of life were monitored. Results: Neither the corticosteroid-free nor the corticosteroid-dependent patients treated with budesonide differed significantly in bone mineral density from those receiving prednisolone. However, corticosteroid-naive patients receiving budesonide had smaller reductions in bone mineral density than those on prednisolone (mean, -1.04% vs -3.84%; P =. 0084). Treatment-emergent corticosteroid side effects were less frequent with budesonide. Efficacy was similar in both groups. Conclusions: Treatment with budesonide is associated with better preserved bone mass compared with prednisolone in only the corticosteroid-naive patients with active ileocecal Crohn's disease. In both the corticosteroid-free and corticosteroid-dependent groups, budesonide and prednisolone were equally effective for up to 2 years, but budesonide caused fewer corticosteroid side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


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