Later puberty associates with lower areal bone mineral density (aBMD), and both are risk factors for osteoporosis. However, the association between puberty timing-associated genetic variants and aBMD during development, and the causal relationship between puberty timing and aBMD, remain uncharacterized. We constructed sex-specific polygenic risk scores (GRS) consisting of 333 genetic variants associated with later puberty in European-descent children in the Bone Mineral Density in Childhood Study (BMDCS), consisting of a longitudinal cohort with up to seven assessments (n=933) and a cross-sectional cohort (n=486). These GRS were tested for associations with age- and sex-specific aBMD Z-scores at the lumbar spine (LS), femoral neck (FN), total hip, and distal radius, accounting for clinical covariates using sex-stratified linear mixed models. The causal relationship between puberty timing and aBMD was tested in the BMDCS and in publicly available adult data (GEFOS consortium) using two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR). The puberty-delaying GRS was associated with later puberty and lower LS-aBMD in the BMDCS in both sexes (combined beta±SE=-0.078±0.024; p=0.0010). In the MR framework, the puberty-delaying genetic instrument also supported a causal association with lower LS-aBMD and FN-aBMD in adults of both sexes. Our results suggest that pubertal timing is causal for diminished aBMD in a skeletal site- and sex-specific manner that tracks throughout life, potentially impacting later risk for osteoporosis, which should be tested in future studies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine