Bone mineral density in girls and boys at different pubertal stages: relation with gonadal steroids, bone formation markers, and growth parameters

J Bone Miner Metab. 2005;23(6):476-82. doi: 10.1007/s00774-005-0631-6.


Puberty has a key role in bone development. During puberty, several nutritional and hormonal factors play a major role in this process. The aim of this study was to determine the changes in areal bone mineral density (BMD), gonadal steroids, bone formation markers, and growth parameters in healthy Turkish pubertal girls and boys at different pubertal stages. In additional, we aimed to detect the relationship between BMD, sex steroids, and growth parameters, and to reveal the most important determinant of BMD in the pubertal period. BMD of the lumbar spine and total body was performed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Lunar DPX series) in 174 healthy pubertal children (91 girls, 83 boys), aged 11-15 years. Height and weight were measured. Pubertal stages were assesed. Bone formation markers and gonadal steroids were measured. BMD values significantly increased until stage IV in girls. In boys, BMD values also increased during puberty (P < 0.05), but it was significantly higher in stage IV compared with that in other pubertal stages (P < 0.01). Testosterone levels increased until stage IV in both sexes, particularly in boys. Estrogen levels significantly increased during puberty in girls, whereas it was significantly higher at stage IV in boys (P < 0.001). Bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) level was higher in early and midpuberty, and decreased in late puberty in girls (P < 0.001). BAP level was higher in stage IV in boys. Osteocalcin level was shown not to change significantly in pubertal stages. There was a modest correlation between BMD values and estrogen and testosterone levels in boys. In girls, there was a correlation between BMD values and estrogen levels only (P < 0.05). Weight was significantly associated with BMD in both sexes (P < 0.05). Estrogen had a significant influence on BMD in boys and girls. In conclusion, bone mass increased throughout puberty in both sexes. Peak bone mass was not achieved in girls, but was obtained at stage IV in boys. Bone formation markers were good predictors of bone mass in girls, but not in boys. Estrogen level made the greatest contribution to bone mineral acquisition in boys and girls. The achievement of peak bone mass was sustained by estrogen in boys. The major independent determinant of BMD in both sexes was weight.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Estradiol / blood*
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Turkey


  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Alkaline Phosphatase