Trabecular microstructure is influenced by race and sex in Black and White young adults

Osteoporos Int. 2019 Jan;30(1):201-209. doi: 10.1007/s00198-018-4729-9. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Abstract

Lower fracture rates in Black men and women compared to their White counterparts are incompletely understood. High-resolution imaging specific to trabecular bone may provide insight. Black participants have enhanced trabecular morphology. These differences may contribute to the lower fracture risk in Black versus White individuals.

Introduction: Lower fracture rates in Black men and women compared to their White counterparts may be explained by favorable bone microstructure in Black individuals. Individual trabecular segmentation (ITS) analysis, which characterizes the alignment and plate- and rod-like nature of trabecular bone using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT), may provide insight into trabecular differences by race/ethnic origin.

Purpose: We determined differences in trabecular bone microarchitecture, connectivity, and alignment according to race/ethnic origin and sex in young adults.

Methods: We analyzed HR-pQCT scans of 184 adult (24.2 ± 3.4 years) women (n = 51 Black, n = 50 White) and men (n = 34 Black, n = 49 White). We used ANCOVA to compare bone outcomes, and adjusted for age, height, and weight.

Results: Overall, the effect of race on bone outcomes did not differ by sex, and the effect of sex on bone outcomes did not differ by race. After adjusting for covariates, Black participants and men of both races had greater trabecular plate volume fraction, plate thickness, plate number density, plate surface area, and greater axial alignment of trabeculae, leading to higher trabecular bone stiffness compared to White participants and women, respectively (p < 0.05 for all).

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that more favorable bone microarchitecture in Black individuals compared to White individuals and in men compared to women is not unique to the cortical bone compartment. Enhanced plate-like morphology and greater trabecular axial alignment, established in young adulthood, may contribute to the improved bone strength and lower fracture risk in Black versus White individuals and in men compared to women.

Keywords: Bone mineral density (BMD); Fracture risk; Gender; High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT); Individual trabecular segmentation; Stress fracture risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Bone Density / genetics
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Cancellous Bone / anatomy & histology*
  • Cancellous Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Cancellous Bone / physiology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology
  • Tibia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / physiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Young Adult