Researchers have revealed that people suffering from coelic disease, a digestive condition, are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, as their immune system attacks bone tissue.
It was previously believed that osteoporosis, a known complication of coeliac disease, develops in coeliac patients because they cannot properly absorb calcium and vitamin D from their diet.
In the new study, the researchers from University of Edinburgh focused on a protein called osteoprotegerin (OPG) in coeliac disease patients.
The study showed that 20 per cent of coeliac patients produce antibodies that attack the OPG protein and thwarts it's functioning, which leads to rapid bone destruction and severe osteoporosis.
"This is a very exciting step forward," the New England Medical Journal quoted Professor Stuart Ralston, of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who led the team, as saying.
"Not only have we discovered a new reason to explain why osteoporosis occurs in coeliac disease, but we have also found that it responds very well to drugs that prevent bone tissue removal.
"Testing for these antibodies could make a real and important difference to the lives of people with coeliac disease by alerting us to the risk of osteoporosis and helping us find the correct treatment for them," Ralston added.