Body composition and reproductive function exert unique influences on indices of bone health in exercising women

Bone. 2013 Sep;56(1):91-100. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 May 20.


Reproductive function, metabolic hormones, and lean mass have been observed to influence bone metabolism and bone mass. It is unclear, however, if reproductive, metabolic and body composition factors play unique roles in the clinical measures of areal bone mineral density (aBMD) and bone geometry in exercising women. This study compares lumbar spine bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) and estimates of femoral neck cross-sectional moment of inertia (CSMI) and cross-sectional area (CSA) between exercising ovulatory (Ov) and amenorrheic (Amen) women. It also explores the respective roles of reproductive function, metabolic status, and body composition on aBMD, lumbar spine BMAD and femoral neck CSMI and CSA, which are surrogate measures of bone strength. Among exercising women aged 18-30 years, body composition, aBMD, and estimates of femoral neck CSMI and CSA were assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Lumbar spine BMAD was calculated from bone mineral content and area. Estrone-1-glucuronide (E1G) and pregnanediol glucuronide were measured in daily urine samples collected for one cycle or monitoring period. Fasting blood samples were collected for measurement of leptin and total triiodothyronine. Ov (n = 37) and Amen (n = 45) women aged 22.3 ± 0.5 years did not differ in body mass, body mass index, and lean mass; however, Ov women had significantly higher percent body fat than Amen women. Lumbar spine aBMD and BMAD were significantly lower in Amen women compared to Ov women (p < 0.001); however, femoral neck CSA and CSMI were not different between groups. E1G cycle mean and age of menarche were the strongest predictors of lumbar spine aBMD and BMAD, together explaining 25.5% and 22.7% of the variance, respectively. Lean mass was the strongest predictor of total hip and femoral neck aBMD as well as femoral neck CSMI and CSA, explaining 8.5-34.8% of the variance. Upon consideration of several potential osteogenic stimuli, reproductive function appears to play a key role in bone mass at a site composed of primarily trabecular bone. However, lean mass is one of the most influential predictors of bone mass and bone geometry at weight-bearing sites, such as the hip.

Keywords: AUC; Amen; BMAD; BMI; Bone geometry; Bone mineral density; CSA; CSMI; DXA; E1G; EAMD; Estrogen; Exercising women; FHA; HSA; IGF-1; LH; Lean mass; Ov; PdG; TT3; VO(2max); aBMD; amenorrheic exercising women; area under the curve; areal bone mineral density; body mass index; bone mineral apparent density; cross-sectional area; cross-sectional moment of inertia; dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry; estrone-1-glucuronide; exercise-associated menstrual disturbances; functional hypothalamic amenorrhea; hip strength analysis; insulin-like growth-factor-1; luteinizing hormone; maximal aerobic capacity; ovulatory exercising women; pQCT; peripheral quantitative computed tomography; pregnanediol glucuronide; total triiodothyronine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / physiopathology
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / physiopathology*
  • Demography
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health*
  • Hip / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Menstruation / physiology
  • Ovulation / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology
  • Young Adult