Trabecular and cortical microstructure and fragility of the distal radius in women

Yohann Bala, Quang Minh Bui, Xiao Fang Wang, Sandra Iuliano, Qingju Wang, Ali Ghasem-Zadeh, Tamara D. Rozental, Mary L. Bouxsein, Roger M.D. Zebaze, Ego Seeman

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Fragility fractures commonly involve metaphyses. The distal radius is assembled with a thin cortex formed by fusion (corticalization) of trabeculae arising from the periphery of the growth plate. Centrally positioned trabeculae reinforce the thin cortex and transfer loads from the joint to the proximal thicker cortical bone. We hypothesized that growth- and age-related deficits in trabecular bone disrupt this frugally assembled microarchitecture, producing bone fragility. The microarchitecture of the distal radius was measured using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography in 135 females with distal radial fractures, including 32 girls (aged 7 to 18 years), 35 premenopausal women (aged 18 to 44 years), and 68 postmenopausal women (aged 50 to 76 years). We also studied 240 fracture-free controls of comparable age and 47 healthy fracture-free premenopausal mother-daughter pairs (aged 30 to 55 and 7 to 20 years, respectively). In fracture-free girls and pre- and postmenopausal women, fewer or thinner trabeculae were associated with a smaller and more porous cortical area (r = 0.25 to 0.71 after age, height, and weight adjustment, all p < 0.05). Fewer and thinner trabeculae in daughters were associated with higher cortical porosity in their mothers (r = 0.30 to 0.47, all p < 0.05). Girls and premenopausal and postmenopausal women with forearm fractures had 0.3 to 0.7 standard deviations (SD) fewer or thinner trabeculae and higher cortical porosity than controls in one or more compartment; one SD trait difference conferred odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for fracture ranging from 1.56 (1.01-2.44) to 4.76 (2.86-7.69). Impaired trabecular corticalization during growth, and cortical and trabecular fragmentation during aging, may contribute to the fragility of the distal radius.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-629
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone Fragility
  • Bone Growth
  • Distal Radius
  • Metaphyses
  • Microstructure

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