MedWire News: Research provides some of the first evidence that the risk for vertebral fracture is influenced by genetics.
In a cohort of adults of European ancestry, vertebral fractures were highly heritable, while risk factors for vertebral fracture also showed moderate to high heritability.
Spinal bone mineral density (BMD) was genetically correlated with fractures of the vertebra, suggesting that there are common genetic variants affecting vertebral fracture and its risk factors, say researchers.
Published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Douglas Kiel (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues note that the underlying predisposing genes for vertebral fracture and its risk factors are unknown.
To address heritability, the group analyzed data from 4099 individuals undergoing vertebral fracture assessment and 3333 individuals undergoing volumetric BMD (vBMD) analyses.
Bone volumetric measures, including integral vBMD and trabecular vBMD, showed significant and strong heritability. In an adjusted model, the heritability of trabecular and integral vBMD was 0.41 and 0.43, respectively.
The heritability of vertebral cross-sectional area (CSA) ranged from 0.27 to 0.43, depending on the covariates included in the adjusted model.
For grade 2 or greater vertebral fractures, the heritability ranged from 0.43 to 0.53, but increased to approximately 0.69 after adjusting for either vBMD or CSA measurements.
In an analysis that included only grade 1 or greater fractures, the heritability was significantly lower, note Kiel and colleagues.
The data underscore the importance of future studies to "identify the specific variants underlying genetic susceptibility to vertebral facture," say the researchers.
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