The vertebral mineral content was measured using dual photon absorptiometry in 41 calcium stone patients with idiopathic hypercalciuria. These patients had been previously divided into 2 groups (diet-dependent and diet-independent hypercalciuria) during a low sodium and low calcium diet. In some of the patients (11 with diet-dependent and 11 with diet-independent hypercalciuria) the vertebral mineral content was evaluated in relation to serum ionized calcium, intact parathyroid hormone, alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin determined after a low sodium and low calcium diet. The vertebral mineral content, expressed as Z-VMD, was normal in diet-dependent and lower in diet-independent hypercalciuric stone patients (-0.30 +/- 1.19 versus -0.26 +/- 1.18, p < 0.02). In 7 of 21 patients (33.3%) the vertebral mineral content was less than 2 standard deviations of the normal value, indicating a true involvement in bone metabolism. Serum intact parathyroid hormone and osteocalcin levels were not different from the controls in both groups, while alkaline phosphatase activity and ionized calcium were higher in diet-independent hypercalciuric patients. Serum ionized calcium was negatively correlated with bone vertebral density. The results suggest that an increased bone turnover may be a primary event in causing hypercalciuria in calcium stone patients unable to decrease urinary calcium to less than the calcium intake.
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