Bone turnover markers: use in osteoporosis

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2012 Jun 5;8(7):379-89. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2012.86.


Biochemical markers of bone turnover (bone turnover markers, BTMs) can be used to study changes in bone remodelling in osteoporosis. Investigators and clinicians should be aware of the appropriate sample collection and storage conditions for optimum measurements of these markers. Improvements in the variability of BTM measurements have resulted from the development of assays for automated analysers, and from international consensus regarding their use. Appropriate reference intervals should be used for the optimum interpretation of results. BTMs can provide information that is useful for the management of patients with osteoporosis, for both the initial clinical assessment and for guiding and monitoring of treatment. BTMs are clinically useful to determine possible causes of secondary osteoporosis by identifying patients with high bone turnover and rapid bone loss. In the follow-up of treatment response, BTM levels respond rapidly to both anabolic and antiresorptive treatments. BTM changes can also be used for understanding the mechanism of action of drugs in development and identifying the correct dose; they are also potentially useful as surrogate biomarkers for fracture.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bone Resorption / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism
  • Osteocytes / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism*
  • Specimen Handling
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers