Skeletal dynamics of Down syndrome: A developing perspective

Jonathan M LaCombe, Randall J Roper
Bone 2020, 133: 115215
Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) display distinctive skeletal morphology compared to the general population, but disparate descriptions, methodologies, analyses, and populations sampled have led to diverging conclusions about this unique skeletal phenotype. As individuals with DS are living longer, they may be at a higher risk of aging disorders such as osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Sexual dimorphism has been suggested between males and females with DS in which males, not females, experience an earlier decline in bone mineral density (BMD). Unfortunately, studies focusing on skeletal health related to Trisomy 21 (Ts21) are few in number and often too underpowered to answer questions about skeletal development, resultant osteoporosis, and sexual dimorphism, especially in stages of bone accrual. Further confounding the field are the varied methods of bone imaging, analysis, and data interpretation. This review takes a critical look at the current knowledge of DS skeletal phenotypes, both from human and mouse studies, and presents knowledge gaps that need to be addressed, differences in research methodologies and analyses that affect the interpretation of results, and proposes guidelines for overcoming obstacles to understand skeletal traits associated with DS. By examining our current knowledge of bone in individuals with Ts21, a trajectory for future studies may be established to provide meaningful solutions for understanding the development of and improving skeletal structures in individuals with and without DS.

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