Altered trabecular bone morphology in adolescent and young adult athletes with menstrual dysfunction

Bone. 2015 Dec;81:24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2015.06.021. Epub 2015 Jun 27.


Context: Young amenorrheic athletes (AA) have lower bone mineral density (BMD) and an increased prevalence of fracture compared with eumenorrheic athletes (EA) and non-athletes. Trabecular morphology is a determinant of skeletal strength and may contribute to fracture risk.

Objectives: To determine the variation in trabecular morphology among AA, EA, and non-athletes and to determine the association of trabecular morphology with fracture among AA.

Design and setting: A cross-sectional study performed at an academic clinical research center.

Participants: 161 girls and young women aged 14-26 years (97 AA, 32 EA, and 32 non-athletes).

Main outcome measure: We measured volumetric BMD (vBMD) and skeletal microarchitecture using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography. We evaluated trabecular morphology (plate-like vs. rod-like), orientation, and connectivity by individual trabecula segmentation.

Results: At the non-weight-bearing distal radius, the groups did not differ for trabecular vBMD. However, plate-like trabecular bone volume fraction (pBV/TV) was lower in AA vs. EA (p=0.03), as were plate number (p=0.03) and connectivity (p=0.03). At the weight-bearing distal tibia, trabecular vBMD was higher in athletes vs. non-athletes (p=0.05 for AA and p=0.009 for EA vs. non-athletes, respectively). pBV/TV was higher in athletes vs. non-athletes (p=0.04 AA and p=0.005 EA vs. non-athletes), as were axially-aligned trabeculae, plate number, and connectivity. Among AA, those with a history of recurrent stress fracture had lower pBV/TV, axially-aligned trabeculae, plate number, plate thickness, and connectivity at the distal radius.

Conclusions: Trabecular morphology and alignment differ among AA, EA, and non-athletes. These differences may be associated with increased fracture risk.

Keywords: Amenorrhea; Athlete; Bone density; Microarchitecture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / complications*
  • Athletes*
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Stress / epidemiology
  • Fractures, Stress / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult