Genetic research in osteoporosis: Where are we? Where should we go next?

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Fractures resulting from low bone mass and excessive skeletal fragility (osteoporosis) are common worldwide both in males and females, particularly in later years of life. Both fractures, and the most important predictor of fractures, bone mass, are now known to be strongly heritable. This fact, plus the current growth in genetic science, has led to a surge of genetic research in osteoporosis, mostly in the search for genes and their polymorphisms that are responsible for variation in bone mass. Finding the genetic basis underlying variation in bone mass will lead us to deeper understanding of the biology of bone mass accumulation, maintenance and adaptation to load. This, plus finding the genetic basis for overall variation in fracture risk per se, will facilitate the development of interventions, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical, to prevent and/or treat osteoporosis successfully. This research has produced a rather large number of gene loci that seem to influence bone mass. The challenge now is to refine the statistical genetics and the phenotypes involved so that we can confidently identify those gene loci that truly influence bone mass, and to find ways to study the genetic basis for the most direct disease outcome of interest, fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-90
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Musculoskeletal Neuronal Interactions
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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