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Recent insights into racial differences in bone and mineral metabolism

Gutiérrez, Orlando M.

Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity: December 2011 - Volume 18 - Issue 6 - p 347–351
doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32834b4c5e
Parathyroids, bone and mineral metabolism: Edited by Vin Tangpricha

Purpose of review This study reviews recent insights into racial differences in bone from 2010 to 2011.

Recent findings Recent studies have focused on expanding our current understanding of responsible mechanisms for racial differences in osteoporotic fracture risk. Using newer, three-dimensional imaging techniques, these studies demonstrated that racial differences in bone mass and structure are apparent early in adolescence, even when accounting for differences in bone size and muscle mass by race. In addition, recent studies using genetic admixture analysis showed that greater percentage of African admixture was independently associated with higher bone mass and more favorable parameters of bone strength in children and adults. Furthermore, recent studies showed that the relationships between 25-hydoxyvitamin D and bone outcomes differed by race, with lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels being associated with lower bone quality and higher fracture risk in whites but not blacks.

Summary Racial differences in bone mass and strength are apparent early in life, are independently associated with genetic ancestry, and may be partly explained by differences in the relationships between vitamin D and bone metabolism. Further studies are needed to explore these findings, with the ultimate goal of better defining molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying racial differences in bone quality.

Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, and Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Correspondence to Orlando M. Gutiérrez, MD, MMSc, University of Alabama at Birmingham, ZRB 614, 1530 3rd Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35294-0006, USA Tel: +1 205 996 2736; fax: +1 205 996 6465; e-mail:

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