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J Bone Miner Res., 1999; 14(8): 1394-403, PMID: 10457272

Age- and gender-related differences in vertebral bone mass, density, and strength

Jahr: 1999

Ebbesen EN, Thomsen JS, Beck-Nielsen H, Nepper-Rasmussen HJ, Mosekilde L
Department of Cell Biology, Institute of Anatomy, University of Aarhus, Arhus, Denmark.


This study was designed to evaluate age- and gender-related differences in vertebral bone mass, density, and strength by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), quantitative computed tomography (QCT), peripheral QCT (pQCT), ash measurements, and biomechanical testing. The material comprised human lumbar vertebral bodies (L3) from 51 females and 50 males (age-range: 18-96 years). The results showed that females had significantly lower vertebral body bone mass (ash weight) than males at any given age. The decline in bone mass with age was parallel for females and males. The different bone density measurements-cancellous ash density, total vertebral body ash density, DXA bone mineral density, QCT, and pQCT-showed no gender-related difference concerning numeric value or changes with age. Morphometrical measurements showed that females had smaller vertebral bodies (volumes) than males. Hence the females had significantly smaller cross-sectional area (CSA) of L3 than males (11.6 cm2 and 14.4 cm2, respectively). This led to females having lower maximum compressive load (N) than males at all ages, whereas maximum compressive stress (load/CSA) showed no gender-related difference. In conclusion, females have lower vertebral body bone mass than males at any given age, due to smaller vertebral bodies. Hence, maximum compressive load (strength not corrected for size) was lower in females. Vertebral body cancellous bone density and total-vertebral body density were equal when comparing genders, and no gender differences were found in the size-corrected strength: maximum compressive stress. The decrease with age in vertebral body compressive strength decrease was twice as large as the age decrease in density.

GID: 1124; Letzte Änderung: 25.02.2008