The Pathophysiology of the Aging Skeleton
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In recent decades the population of both elderly men and women has grown substantially worldwide. Aging is associated with a number of pathologies involving various organs including the skeleton. Age-related bone loss and resultant osteoporosis put the elderly population at an increased risk for fractures and morbidity. Fortunately, in parallel our understanding of this malady has also grown substantially in recent years. A number of clinical as well as translational studies have been pivotal in providing us with an understanding of the pathophysiology of this condition. This article discusses the current concepts of age-related modulation of the skeleton involving intrinsic factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, levels of oxidative stress, and changes in telomere length, as well as extrinsic factors such as nutritional and lifestyle choices. It also briefly outlines recent studies on the relationship between bone and fat in the marrow as well as the periphery.