Altered trabecular bone morphology in adolescent and young adult athletes with menstrual dysfunction

Deborah M Mitchell, Padrig Tuck, Kathryn E Ackerman, Natalia Cano Sokoloff, Ryan Woolley, Meghan Slattery, Hang Lee, Mary L Bouxsein, Madhusmita Misra
Bone 2015, 81: 24-30

CONTEXT: Young amenorrheic athletes (AA) have lower bone mineral density (BMD) and an increased prevalence of fracture compared with eumenorrheic athletes (EA) and non-athletes. Trabecular morphology is a determinant of skeletal strength and may contribute to fracture risk.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the variation in trabecular morphology among AA, EA, and non-athletes and to determine the association of trabecular morphology with fracture among AA.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional study performed at an academic clinical research center.

PARTICIPANTS: 161 girls and young women aged 14-26 years (97 AA, 32 EA, and 32 non-athletes).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: We measured volumetric BMD (vBMD) and skeletal microarchitecture using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography. We evaluated trabecular morphology (plate-like vs. rod-like), orientation, and connectivity by individual trabecula segmentation.

RESULTS: At the non-weight-bearing distal radius, the groups did not differ for trabecular vBMD. However, plate-like trabecular bone volume fraction (pBV/TV) was lower in AA vs. EA (p=0.03), as were plate number (p=0.03) and connectivity (p=0.03). At the weight-bearing distal tibia, trabecular vBMD was higher in athletes vs. non-athletes (p=0.05 for AA and p=0.009 for EA vs. non-athletes, respectively). pBV/TV was higher in athletes vs. non-athletes (p=0.04 AA and p=0.005 EA vs. non-athletes), as were axially-aligned trabeculae, plate number, and connectivity. Among AA, those with a history of recurrent stress fracture had lower pBV/TV, axially-aligned trabeculae, plate number, plate thickness, and connectivity at the distal radius.

CONCLUSIONS: Trabecular morphology and alignment differ among AA, EA, and non-athletes. These differences may be associated with increased fracture risk.

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