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Postmenopausal osteoporosis

Nature Reviews Disease Primers volume 2, Article number: 16069 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disorder that is characterized by low bone mass and micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue. Fractures of the proximal femur, the vertebrae and the distal radius are the most frequent osteoporotic fractures, although most fractures in the elderly are probably at least partly related to bone fragility. The incidence of fractures varies greatly by country, but on average up to 50% of women >50 years of age are at risk of fractures. Fractures severely affect the quality of life of an individual and are becoming a major public health problem owing to the ageing population. Postmenopausal osteoporosis, resulting from oestrogen deficiency, is the most common type of osteoporosis. Oestrogen deficiency results in an increase in bone turnover owing to effects on all types of bone cells. The imbalance in bone formation and resorption has effects on trabecular bone (loss of connectivity) and cortical bone (cortical thinning and porosity). Osteoporosis is diagnosed using bone density measurements of the lumbar spine and proximal femur. Preventive strategies to improve bone health include diet, exercise and abstaining from smoking. Fractures may be prevented by reducing falls in high-risk populations. Several drugs are licensed to reduce fracture risk by slowing down bone resorption (such as bisphosphonates and denosumab) or by stimulating bone formation (such as teriparatide). Improved understanding of the cellular basis for osteoporosis has resulted in new drugs targeted to key pathways, which are under development.

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Acknowledgements

R.E. was supported by a Senior Investigator Award from the National Institute of Health Research. L.C.H. was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB-655 and Transregio-67.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Academic Unit of Bone Metabolism, and Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

    • Richard Eastell
  2. Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

    • Terence W. O'Neill
  3. Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Diseases and Centre for Healthy Aging, Technische Universität Dresden Medical Center, Dresden, Germany.

    • Lorenz C. Hofbauer
  4. Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.

    • Bente Langdahl
  5. Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

    • Ian R. Reid
  6. Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Sociology, and Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

    • Deborah T. Gold
  7. San Francisco Coordinating Center, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.

    • Steven R. Cummings

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Contributions

Introduction (R.E.); Epidemiology (T.W.O.); Mechanisms/pathophysiology (L.C.H.); Diagnosis, screening and prevention (B.L.); Management (I.R.R.); Quality of life (D.T.G.); Outlook (S.R.C.); Overview of Primer (R.E.).

Competing interests

R.E. has received consulting fees from Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Immunodiagnostic Systems, Ono Pharma, Lilly and Roche Diagnostics, and grant support from Amgen, Immunodiagnostic Systems, Lilly and AstraZeneca. L.C.H. has received honoraria for serving on the advisory board and for giving lectures from Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis and UCB. B.L. has received consulting fees from Amgen, Merck, Eli Lilly and UCB, and grant support from Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly and Orkla Health. I.R.R. has received research funding and honoraria from Merck, Amgen and Novartis. S.R.C. serves as a consultant to Amgen, Radius, Merck and Eli Lilly about the design of studies and interpretation of results, and has received grant support from Amgen for systematic review of medical risk factors for hip fracture. He has not received funds for lectures or other promotional activities. D.T.G. and T.W.O. have no conflicts of interest or competing interests to report.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Eastell.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nrdp.2016.69

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