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08-12-2009 | Bone health | Article

Telomere length not linked to osteoporosis


Free abstract

MedWire News: Telomere length is not a significant risk factor for bone loss at the hip in elderly Chinese men and women, study findings indicate.

Bone mineral density (BMD) is influenced by the dynamics of aging, inflammation, and bone remodeling, observe Jean Woo (Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong, China) and colleagues.

Since bone loss and telomere shortening have been linked to inflammation, it has been hypothesized that short telomere length is a risk factor for osteoporosis, say the researchers.

To examine the relationship between telomere length, BMD and the rate of bone loss over a 4-year period, Woo and team studied 1867 community-dwelling Chinese people (51.6% men) aged 65 years or older. They used dual energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure BMD at the hip and femoral neck and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction to measure telomere length.

The researchers report that the mean telomere length was significantly greater in women than in men (5.95 vs 5.4 kb). Over the 4-year study period, mean BMD loss at the hip was significantly greater in women than in men (0.016 vs 0.007 g/cm2) and similar findings were observed at the femoral neck.

Age and body mass index were strongly associated with bone loss in men and women. In women, age at menopause, menarche, estrogen treatment/replacement therapy, and history of previous fracture were also significant predictors for BMD.

In contrast, telomere length was not associated with baseline BMD or bone loss over 4 years in men or women and accounted for less than 1.6% of the variation in baseline BMD

However, Woo et al comment in the journal Osteoporosis International: “This finding does not necessarily negate the concept of telomere length as a biological marker of bone aging, since the age range studied was not wide and BMD at the hip site may be more affected by mechanical factors compared with other sites.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Laura Dean

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