Do genetic factors explain associations between muscle strength, lean mass, and bone density? A twin study

Am J Physiol. 1996 Feb;270(2 Pt 1):E320-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1996.270.2.E320.


Are the associations between muscle strength, lean mass, and bone mineral density (BMD) genetically determined? Based on within-pair differences in 56 monozygotic (MZ) and 56 dizygotic (DZ) female twin pairs, mean age 45 yr (range 24-67), BMD was associated with lean mass, independent of fat mass and height (P < 0.05). A 10% increment in femoral neck (FN) BMD was associated with a 15% increment in lean mass (approximately 6 kg). BMD was associated with muscle strength (measured in 35 pairs) before, but not after, adjusting for lean mass. Based on age-adjusted cross-sectional analyses, same-trait correlations (+/- SE) in MZ pairs were double those in DZ pairs: FN BMD (0.62 +/- 0.08, 0.33 +/- 0.12) and lean mass (0.87 +/- 0.03, 0.30 +/- 0.11; all P < 0.001), consistent with a genetic hypothesis. The cross-trait correlation (r) between lean mass and FN BMD in the same individual was 0.43 +/- 0.06. The cross-trait cross-twin correlation between lean mass in one twin and FN BMD in the other was 0.31 +/- 0.07 in MZ pairs, approximately 75% of the cross-trait correlation (r) and 0.19 +/- 0.09 in DZ paris (P < 0.001). After adjusting for height and fat mass, the MZ and DZ cross-trait cross-twin correlations were no different (0.16 +/- 0.08 and 0.13 +/- 0.09, respectively). Therefore, genetic factors account for 60-80% of the individual variances of both FN BMD and lean mass, and > 50% of their covariance. The association between greater muscle mass and greater BMD is likely to be determined by genes regulating size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height
  • Bone Density*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics*
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics*