Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 793-800

First online:

Spectroscopic markers of bone quality in alendronate-treated postmenopausal women

  • A. L. BoskeyAffiliated withMusculoskeletal Integrity Program, Hospital for Special SurgeryHospital for Special Surgery Email author 
  • , L. SpevakAffiliated withMusculoskeletal Integrity Program, Hospital for Special Surgery
  • , R. S. WeinsteinAffiliated withDivision of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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Comparison of infrared spectroscopic images of sections from biopsies of placebo-treated post-menopausal women and women treated for 3 years with 10 mg/day alendronate demonstrated significant increases in cortical bone mineral content, no alterations in other spectroscopic markers of “bone quality,” but a decrease in tissue heterogeneity.


The material properties of thick sections from iliac crest biopsies of seven alendronate-treated women were compared to those from ten comparably aged post-menopausal women without bone disease, using infrared spectroscopic imaging at ∼7 μm spatial resolution. Parameters evaluated were mineral/matrix ratio, crystallinity, carbonate/amide I ratio, and collagen maturity. The line widths at half maximum of the pixel histograms for each parameter were used as measures of heterogeneity.


The mineral content (mineral/matrix ratio) in the cortical bone of the treated women’s biopsies was higher than that in the untreated control women. Crystallinity, carbonate/protein, and collagen maturity indices were not significantly altered; however, the pixel distribution was significantly narrowed for all cortical and trabecular parameters with the exception of collagen maturity in the alendronate treatment group.


The increases in mineral density and decreased fracture risk associated with bisphosphonate treatment may be counterbalanced by a decrease in tissue heterogeneity, which could impair tissue mechanical properties. These consistent data suggest that alendronate treatment, while increasing the bone mass, decreases the tissue heterogeneity.


Alendronate Bone heterogeneity Infrared spectroscopic imaging Osteoporosis