Genetic and environmental factors contribute to bone mass, but the ways they interact remain poorly understood. This study of 245 pre- and early pubertal girls found that the PvuII polymorphism in the ER-α gene modulates the effect of exercise on BMD at loaded bone sites.
Introduction: Impaired achievement of bone mass at puberty is an important risk factor for the development of osteoporosis in later life. Genetic, as well as environmental, factors contribute to bone mass, but the ways they interact with each other remain poorly understood.
Materials and Methods: We investigated the interaction between a PvuII polymorphism at the ER-α gene and physical activity (PA) on the modulation of bone mass and geometry in 245 10- to 13-year-old pre- and early pubertal Finnish girls. Level of PA was assessed using a questionnaire. Bone properties were measured using DXA and pQCT. The analyses were controlled for the effects of Tanner stage and body size index.
Results: Girls with heterozygote ER-α genotype (Pp) and high PA had significantly higher bone mass and BMD, as well as thicker cortex, at loaded bone sites than their low-PA counterparts. No differences were found in bone properties of the distal radius, which is not a weight-bearing bone. Bone properties did not differ in either homozygote groups (PP and pp) regardless of the PA level.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the PvuII polymorphism in the ER-α gene may modulate the effect of exercise on BMD at loaded bone sites. The heterozygotes may benefit most from the effect of exercise, whereas neither of the homozygote groups received any significant improvement from high PA. Furthermore, high PA may hide the genetic influence on bone. Indeed, it seems that one may compensate one's less favorable Pp genotype by increasing leisure PA at early puberty.