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Abstract

The problem of osteoporosis in men has recently been recognized as an important public health issue. To test the hypothesis that endocrine deficiency–mediated alterations in bone metabolism might contribute to osteoporotic fracture risk in elderly men, serum levels of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D), 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25(OH)2D), intact parathyroid hormone (PTH), testosterone, and estradiol were measured in 40 males (mean age 73 years) who were consecutively recruited within 18 h following a fracture of the proximal femur, and in an equal number of community-living older men (mean age 72 years) who served as controls. In addition, circulating osteocalcin and urinary excretion of (deoxy)pyridinoline were determined as markers of bone formation and resorption, respectively. No differences were observed between the mean serum concentrations of osteocalcin and estradiol. Serum levels of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)2D, and testosterone, however, were decreased in hip fracture patients. When correcting for differences in vitamin D binding protein, differences in 1,25(OH)2D did not persist, whereas serum 25(OH)D was still significantly lower in patients than in controls (6.1 ± 4.3 vs. 7.6 ± 2.8, p = 0.01). Similarly, a highly significant deficit was observed in the free testosterone index, calculated from total testosterone and the level of sex hormone binding globulin (2.6 ± 1.3 vs. 8.2 ± 2.9, p < 0.001). Serum PTH and urinary pyridinium cross-links, however, were markedly increased in the fracture group. Moreover, in fracture patients, free 25(OH)D and free testosterone were both significant and mutually independent negative predictors of (deoxy)pyridinoline excretion. Although limited by its cross-sectional design, the present study suggests that both hypovitaminosis D and androgen deficiency may predispose to bone resorption in elderly men and in turn to remodeling imbalance and fracture risk.