Biological Variability of Serum and Urinary N-Telopeptides of Type I Collagen in Postmenopausal Women



Measurement of N-telopeptides of type I bone collagen (NTX) provides a specific indicator of the current level of bone resorption. The biological intrasubject variability of NTX in urine and serum was studied in 277 postmenopausal women, mean age, 63.6 years ± 10.2 (±SD) years. Second-morning void urine and serum specimens were collected at baseline and for two consecutive days to determine short-term variability (%CV). Long-term variability was determined by comparing NTX results at baseline and two consecutive months. Subjects were instructed to maintain current diet, lifestyle, and medications during the study. The median short-term %CV was 13.1% for urine NTX. This compared with 6.3% for serum NTX. Calculation of long-term %CV showed similar trends, with the %CV for NTX measured in serum (7.5%) lower than when measured in urine (15.6%). Using the least significant change (LSC) calculation, our data show that to be 90% confident that a decrease in NTX after initiation of antiresorptive therapy in an individual patient is not caused by variability alone, a 31% decrease in urine NTX and a 14% decrease in serum NTX is required. As reported changes in NTX caused by antiresorptive therapy are greater than these calculations; our results support the use of either specimen to measure NTX to monitor the effect of therapy.