The Benefit of Menopausal Hormone Therapy on Bone Density and Microarchitecture Persists After its Withdrawal

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Dec;101(12):5004-5011. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-2695. Epub 2016 Nov 17.


Context: Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) favorably affects bone mineral density (BMD). Whether MHT also affects bone microarchitecture, as assessed by trabecular bone score (TBS), has never been evaluated.

Objective: Our objective was to assess the effect of MHT on TBS and BMD before and after its withdrawal.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study.

Setting: This study included the general community.

Patients or other participants: Data were collected from the OsteoLaus cohort (1500 women aged 50-80 years). After exclusion of women with bone-modulating treatments, 1279 women were categorized according to MHT status into current (CU), past (PU), and never (NU) users.

Main outcome measure(s): Spine TBS and BMD at lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip were assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry.

Results: Age- and body mass index-adjusted analysis showed higher TBS values in CU vs PU or NU (1.31 ± 0.01, 1.29 ± 0.01, and 1.27 ± 0.01, respectively; P < .001). All BMD values were significantly higher in CU vs PU or NU. Compared to NU, PU exhibited higher lumbar spine (0.94 ± 0.01 vs 0.91 ± 0.01 g/cm2; P = .017) and total hip (0.86 ± 0.01 vs 0.84 ± 0.01 g/cm2; P = .026) BMD and a trend for higher TBS (P = .066). The 10-year loss of TBS and BMD at lumbar spine and total hip was significantly lower for both CU and PU vs NU. MHT duration had no effect on bone parameters. In PU, the residual effect on TBS and BMD was significantly more prominent in early discontinuers (<2 years).

Conclusion: MHT is associated with bone microarchitecture preservation, as assessed by TBS. The effect of MHT on TBS and BMD persists at least 2 years after withdrawal.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Femur Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Femur Neck / drug effects
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / drug effects
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Pelvic Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pelvic Bones / drug effects