Endochondral bone growth, bone calcium accretion, and bone mineral density: how are they related?
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- Wongdee, K., Krishnamra, N. & Charoenphandhu, N. J Physiol Sci (2012) 62: 299. doi:10.1007/s12576-012-0212-0
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Endochondral bone growth in young growing mammals or adult mammals with persistent growth plates progresses from proliferation, maturation and hypertrophy of growth plate chondrocytes to mineralization of cartilaginous matrix to form an osseous tissue. This complex process is tightly regulated by a number of factors with different impacts, such as genetics, endocrine/paracrine factors [e.g., PTHrP, 1,25(OH)2D3, IGF-1, FGFs, and prolactin], and nutritional status (e.g., dietary calcium and vitamin D). Despite a strong link between growth plate function and elongation of the long bone, little is known whether endochondral bone growth indeed determines bone calcium accretion, bone mineral density (BMD), and/or peak bone mass. Since the process ends with cartilaginous matrix calcification, an increase in endochondral bone growth typically leads to more calcium accretion in the primary spongiosa and thus higher BMD. However, in lactating rats with enhanced trabecular bone resorption, bone elongation is inversely correlated with BMD. Although BMD can be increased by factors that enhance endochondral bone growth, the endochondral bone growth itself is unlikely to be an important determinant of peak bone mass since it is strongly determined by genetics. Therefore, endochondral bone growth and bone elongation are associated with calcium accretion only in a particular subregion of the long bone, but do not necessarily predict BMD and peak bone mass.