Age related changes in the bone microstructure in patients with femoral neck fractures

J M Sanchez-Siles, I Tamimi-Mariño, A R G Cortes, J L Ackerman, D González-Quevedo, E Guerado, A García, F Yaghoubi, M N Abdallah, H Eimar, M Laurenti, A Al-Subaie, F Tamimi
Injury 2020 February 16

BACKGROUND: The risk of femoral neck fracture progressively increases with age. However, the reasons behind this consistent increase in the fracture risk can't be completely justified by the decrease in the bone mineral density. The objective of this study was to analyze the correlation between various bone structural features and age.

STUDY DESIGN & METHODS: A total of 29 consecutive patients who suffered an intracapsular hip fracture and underwent joint replacement surgery between May 2012 and March 2013 were included in this study. A 2 cm × 1 cm Ø cylindrical trabecular bone sample was collected from the femoral heads and preserved in formaldehyde. Bone mineral density (BMD), microarchitecture, organic content and crystallography were analyzed using a Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, micro-CT scan, and high resolution magic-angle-spinning-nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS-NMR), respectively. Statistical correlations were made using Spearman´s or Pearson´s correlation tests depending on the distribution of the continuous variables.

RESULTS: The mean patient age was 79.83 ± 9.31 years. A moderate negative correlation was observed between age and the hydrogen content in bone (1 H), which is an indirect estimate to quantify the organic matrix (r = -0.512, p = 0.005). No correlations were observed between BMD, trabecular number, trabecular thickness, phosphorous content, apatite crystal size, and age (r = 0.06, p = 0.755; r = -0.008, p = 0.967; r = -0.046, p = 0.812; r = -0.152, p = 0.430, respectively). A weak positive correlation was observed between Charlson´s comorbidity index (CCI) and c-axis of the hydroxiapatite (HA) crystals (r = -0.400, p = 0.035).

CONCLUSION: The femoral head relative protein content progressively decreases with age. BMD was not correlated with other structural bone parameters and age. Patients with higher comorbidity scores had larger HA crystals. The present results suggest that the progressive increase in the hip fracture risk in elderly patients could be partially explained by the lower bone protein content in this age group.

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