Premenopausal and postmenopausal differences in bone microstructure and mechanical competence in Chinese-American and white women


Address correspondence to: Bone Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University, 351 Engineering Terrace, 1210 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA. E-mail:


Compared to white women, premenopausal Chinese-American women have more plate-like trabecular (Tb) bone. It is unclear whether these findings are relevant to postmenopausal women and if there are racial differences in the deterioration of bone microarchitecture with aging. We applied individual trabecula segmentation and finite element analysis to high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography images in premenopausal and postmenopausal Chinese-American and white women to quantify within-race age-related differences in Tb plate-versus-rod microarchitecture and bone stiffness. Race–menopause status interactions were assessed. Comparisons between races within menopause status were adjusted for age, height and weight. Comparisons between premenopausal and postmenopausal women were adjusted for height and weight. Adjusted analyses at the radius indicated that premenopausal Chinese-Americans had a higher plate bone volume fraction (pBV/TV), Tb plate-to-rod ratio (P-R ratio), and greater plate-plate junction densities (P-P Junc.D) versus white women (all p < 0.01), resulting in 27% higher Tb stiffness (p < 0.05). Greater cortical thickness and density (Ct.Th and Dcort) and more Tb plates led to 19% greater whole bone stiffness (p < 0.05). Postmenopausal Chinese-Americans had similar pBV/TV and P-P Junc.D, yet a higher P-R ratio versus white women. Postmenopausal Chinese-American versus white women had greater Ct.Th, Dcort, and relatively intact Tb plates, resulting in similar Tb stiffness but 12% greater whole bone stiffness (p < 0.05). In both races, Ct.Th and Dcort were lower in postmenopausal versus premenopausal women and there were no differences between races. Tb plate parameters were also lower in postmenopausal versus premenopausal women, but age-related differences in pBV/TV, P-R ratio, and P-P Junc D were greater (p < 0.05) in Chinese-Americans versus white women. There are advantages in cortical and Tb bone in premenopausal Chinese-American women. Within-race cross-sectional differences between premenopausal and postmenopausal women suggest greater loss of plate-like Tb bone with aging in Chinese-Americans, though thicker cortices and more plate-like Tb bone persists.