Biochemical measurements of bone turnover in children and adolescents

Osteoporos Int. 2000;11(4):281-94. doi: 10.1007/s001980070116.


Biochemical measurements of bone turnover are helpful in the study of the pathophysiology of skeletal metabolism and growth. However, interpretation of their results is difficult because they depend on age, pubertal stage, growth velocity, mineral accrual, hormonal regulation, nutritional status, circadian variation, day-to-day variation, method of expression of results of urinary markers, specificity for bone tissue, sensitivity and specificity of assays. Three markers of bone formation have been described including their bone specificity and age-related changes: osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase and its skeletal isoenzyme, procollagen I extension peptides. Bone resorption markers (hydroxyproline; deoxypyridinoline; pyridinoline; peptides containing these crosslinks such as N-telopeptide to helix in urine (NTX), C-telopeptide-1 to helix in serum (ICTP) and C-telopeptide-2 in urine and serum (CTX); tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase; hydroxylysine and its glycosides) are described with special attention to methodologic issues, mainly ways of expression of their results. Changes of bone turnover during growth are described during four periods: infancy, prepubertal period, puberty and the postpubertal period. Pubertal changes of bone markers are described with special attention to gender differences and hormonal mechanisms of the growth spurt which determine differences related to the pubertal stage. Disturbances of bone turnover in four conditions are described to illustrate the impact of such diseases on growth and formation of peak bone mass: prematurity, malnutrition, growth hormone deficiency and corticosteroid-treated bronchial asthma. Available data suggest biochemical markers of bone remodeling may be useful in the clinical investigation of bone turnover in children in health and disease. However, their use in everyday clinical practice is not advised at present.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Blacks
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Development / physiology*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / metabolism
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology
  • Whites


  • Biomarkers