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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 16

J Autoimmun

The pathogenesis, diagnosis and clinical manifestations of steroid-induced osteonecrosis.


Chang C, Greenspan A, Gershwin EM
J Autoimmun. 2020 Apr 16:102460.
PMID: 32307211.


Corticosteroid associated osteonecrosis is bone death resulting from the use of chronic glucocorticoids and most commonly affects the femoral head, although the bones such as around knee joint, wrist joint and ankle joint can be affected. The pathogenesis is likely multifactorial, with genetic and environmental factors playing a role. Epigenetics may be the mechanism by which environment exerts it effects. In spite of recent discoveries, the exact pathogenesis of corticosteroid associated osteonecrosis is unknown. Over the past few years, more miRNA's have been found to be associated with osteonecrosis. The older mechanisms such as a coagulopathy, abnormalities in apoptosis and lipid metabolism dysfunction are still believed to play a role. The role of inflammatory pathways including the PDK1/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, the PERK and Parkin pathways have been increasingly recognized as playing a mechanistic role. Histological damage to the joint can occur before the presence of symptoms. The most common symptoms are pain and an inability to bear weight. Differential diagnosis includes infection, bone marrow edema syndrome or subchondral fracture. Early detection is important for successful management of the condition. MRI is the best radiologic technique to diagnosis femoral head osteonecrosis. Multiple staging systems for osteonecrosis have been used over the years, including the Ficat and Arlet system and the Steinberg criteria. The later stages of these staging systems are irreversible. Both non-surgical (conservative) and surgical modes of therapy are used in the treatment of osteonecrosis.