Review Article

European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 62, Issue 10, pp 781-792

First online:

An update on biomarkers of bone turnover and their utility in biomedical research and clinical practice

  • D. J. LeemingAffiliated withNordic Bioscience Diagnostics A/S Email author 
  • , P. AlexandersenAffiliated withCenter for Clinical and Basic Research A/S
  • , M. A. KarsdalAffiliated withPharmos Bioscience A/S
  • , P. QvistAffiliated withNordic Bioscience Diagnostics A/S
  • , S. SchallerAffiliated withPharmos Bioscience A/S
  • , L. B. TankóAffiliated withCenter for Clinical and Basic Research A/S

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Maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of the skeleton is a critical function of a continuous remodeling driven by highly associated processes of bone resorption and synthetic activities driven by osteoclasts and osteoblasts, respectively. Acceleration of bone turnover, accompanied with a disruption of the coupling between these cellular activities, plays an established role in the pathogenesis of metabolic bone diseases, such as osteoporosis. During the past decades, major efforts have been dedicated to the development and clinical assessment of biochemical markers that can reflect the rate of bone turnover. Numerous studies have provided evidence that serum levels or urinary excretion of these biomarkers correlate with the rate of bone loss and fracture risk, proving them as useful tools for improving identification of high-risk patients.


The aim of the present review is to give an update on biomarkers of bone turnover and give an overview of their applications in epidemiological and clinical research.


Special attention is given to their utility in clinical trials testing the efficacy of drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis and how they supplement bone mass measurements. Recent evidence suggests that biochemical markers may provide information on bone age that may have indirectly relates to bone quality; the latter is receiving increasing attention. A more targeted use of biomarkers could further optimize identification of high-risk patients, the process of drug discovery, and monitoring of the efficacy of osteoporosis treatment in clinical settings.


Bone resorption markers Bone formation markers Bone regulatory proteins Bone mineral density Fracture risk Treatment Monitoring Postmenopausal women