Collagen cross-links as a determinant of bone quality: a possible explanation for bone fragility in aging, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus

Osteoporos Int. 2010 Feb;21(2):195-214. doi: 10.1007/s00198-009-1066-z.


Collagen cross-linking, a major post-translational modification of collagen, plays important roles in the biological and biomechanical features of bone. Collagen cross-links can be divided into lysyl hydroxylase and lysyloxidase-mediated enzymatic immature divalent cross-links,mature trivalent pyridinoline and pyrrole cross-links, and glycation- or oxidation-induced non-enzymatic cross-links(advanced glycation end products) such as glucosepane and pentosidine. These types of cross-links differ in the mechanism of formation and in function. Material properties of newly synthesized collagen matrix may differ in tissue maturity and senescence from older matrix in terms of crosslink formation. Additionally, newly synthesized matrix in osteoporotic patients or diabetic patients may not necessarily be as well-made as age-matched healthy subjects. Data have accumulated that collagen cross-link formation affects not only the mineralization process but also microdamage formation. Consequently, collagen cross-linking is thought to affect the mechanical properties of bone. Furthermore,recent basic and clinical investigations of collagen cross-links seem to face a new era. For instance, serum or urine pentosidine levels are now being used to estimate future fracture risk in osteoporosis and diabetes. In this review, we describe age-related changes in collagen cross-links in bone and abnormalities of cross-links in osteoporosis and diabetes that have been reported in the literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology


  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Collagen