Prevalent fractures are related to cortical bone geometry in young healthy men at age of peak bone mass



Low areal bone mass is a risk factor for fractures in men. Limited data are available on fractures and bone geometry in men, and the relation with sex steroids is incompletely understood. We investigated prevalent fractures in relation to peak bone mass, bone geometry, and sex steroids in healthy young men. Healthy male siblings (n = 677) at the age of peak bone mass (25 to 45 years) were recruited in a cross-sectional population-based study. Trabecular and cortical bone parameters of the radius and cortical bone parameters of the tibia were assessed using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) was determined using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Sex steroids were determined using immunoassays, and fracture prevalence was assessed using questionnaires. Fractures in young men were associated with a longer limb length, shorter trunk, lower trabecular BMD, smaller cortical bone area, and smaller cortical thickness (p < .005) but not with bone-size-adjusted volumetic BMD (vBMD). With decreasing cortical thickness [odds ratio (OR) 1.4/SD, p ≤ .001] and decreasing cortical area (OR 1.5/SD, p ≤ .001), fracture odds ratios increased. No association between sex steroid concentrations and prevalent fractures was observed. Childhood fractures (≤15 years) were associated with a thinner bone cortex (−5%, p ≤ .005) and smaller periosteal size (−3%, p ≤ .005). Fractures occurring later than 15 years of age were associated with a thinner bone cortex (−3%, p ≤ .05) and larger endosteal circumference (+3%, p ≤ .05) without differences in periosteal bone size. In conclusion, prevalent fractures in healthy young men are associated with unfavorable bone geometry and not with cortical vBMD when adjusting for bone size. Moreover, the data suggest different mechanisms of childhood fractures and fractures during adult life. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research