Age-Related Changes in Bone Density, Microarchitecture, and Strength in Postmenopausal Black and White Women: The SWAN Longitudinal HR-pQCT Study

J Bone Miner Res. 2022 Jan;37(1):41-51. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.4460. Epub 2021 Nov 9.


Higher fracture risk in White versus Black women is partly explained by lower BMD and worse bone microarchitecture in White women. However, whether rates of decline in bone density, microarchitecture and strength differ between postmenopausal Black and White women is unknown. Further, factors that influence rates of age-related bone microarchitecture deterioration remain ill-defined. Thus, over 6.7 years, longitudinal changes were measured in peripheral volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), microarchitecture, and strength at the distal radius and tibia using HR-pQCT in postmenopausal Black (n = 80) and White (n = 137) women participating in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. It was assessed whether age-related changes in vBMD and microarchitecture were influenced by body weight, body composition, and/or weight change. It was found that at the radius, where White women appeared to have slightly greater rates of loss in total vBMD, cortical bone volume, and porosity than Black women, those differences were attenuated after adjusting for clinical covariates. At the tibia, Black and White women had similar rates of bone loss. Independent of race and other clinical covariates, women with the lowest baseline body weight experienced the greatest decline in total and trabecular vBMD at the radius. Furthermore, women who lost weight over the follow-up period had higher rates of bone loss, particularly at the tibia, compared with those who maintained or gained weight. Higher baseline total body fat mass was also protective of bone loss at both the radius and tibia. In conclusion, these findings indicate that lower fracture risk among postmenopausal Black women is not caused by slower rates of bone deterioration, and highlight the importance for postmenopausal women to avoid lower body weight and excessive weight loss to avert rapid bone loss and subsequent fractures. © 2021 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR).


Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Blacks
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause*
  • Radius / anatomy & histology
  • Radius / diagnostic imaging