, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 263-273
Date: 24 Feb 2004

Attainment of peak bone mass at the lumbar spine, femoral neck and radius in men and women: relative contributions of bone size and volumetric bone mineral density

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The age at which peak bone mineral content (peak BMC) is reached remains controversial and the mechanism underlying bone mass “consolidation” is still undefined. The aims of this study were to investigate; (1) the timing of peak BMC by studying bone size and volumetric BMD (vBMD) as separate entities and (2) to determine the relative contributions of bone size and vBMD to bone mass “consolidation”. A total of 132 healthy Caucasian children (63 boys and 69 girls, ages 11–19 years) and 134 healthy Caucasian adults (66 men and 68 women, ages 20–50 years) were studied. BMC was measured by DXA at the AP and lateral lumbar spine (LS) femoral neck (FN) and ultradistal radius (UDR). vBMD and bone volume (size) were estimated. Bone mass “consolidation” was examined between age 16 years to the age peak bone values were attained. During growth, BMC and bone size increased steeply with age and approximately 80–90% of peak values were achieved by late adolescence. vBMD at the spine and UDR (in women) increased gradually, but vBMD at the FN and UDR in men remained almost constant. During “consolidation”, bone size continued to increase with little change in vBMD. Peak vBMD at the lumbar spine was reached at 22 and 29 years in men and women, respectively, but earlier at the FN at 12 years. At the UDR peak vBMD was achieved at age 19 years in women, with little change in men. In conclusion, peak vBMD and bone size are almost fully attained during late adolescence. Although speculative, the lack of change in vBMD during consolidation implies that the continued increase in bone mass may primarily be due to increases in bone size rather than increases in either trabecular volume, cortical thickness or the degree of mineralisation of existing bone matrix (vBMD). Skeletal growth and maturation is heterogeneous, but crucial in understanding how the origins of osteoporosis may begin during childhood and young adulthood.

Presented in part at the XXXVIIth European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, Tampere, Finland, 2000.