-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SUNDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- A large international group
of researchers has identified 32 new genetic regions linked to
fractures and osteoporosis.
Variations in these regions could offer protection from, or
greater risk for, bone-weakening disease, the investigators
reported in a new study published in the April 15 online edition of
The study authors added that their findings could lead to the
development of new osteoporosis drugs.
"We're learning that the genetic architecture of disease is very complex," one of the study's authors and the methodological leader of the consortium, Dr. John Ioannidis, chief of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said in a university news release.
The research, which involved 17 studies that compared common
genetic variants in more than 100,000 people, pinpointed six
regions linked to risk of fractures of the femur (thigh bone) or
The study authors pointed out, however, that it would still be
difficult to predict who is at greater risk for bone disease.
People with the highest number of variants associated with
decreased bone mineral density were only about one and a half times
more likely than people with an average number of variants to have
osteoporosis. The risk for fractures was only slightly higher.
Meanwhile, compared to those with the fewest variants, people
with the most variants were still just three to four times more
likely to have had fractures and lower bone mineral density, the
"As a result, the next step of incorporating this information into basic patient care is not clear," Ioannidis concluded. "Each variant conveys a small quantum of risk or benefit. We can't predict exactly who will or won't get a fracture."
The authors noted, however, that by identifying some previously
unsuspected pathways involved in bone health, their research could
lead to the development of new anti-osteoporosis drugs. But even
larger studies are needed to identify all of the genes critical to
fighting bone disease, they added.
"We saw many of these regions and genes clustering within specific types of pathways, which suggests certain disease mechanisms. It certainly wouldn't be unexpected to eventually identify many more genetic regions involved in the regulation of osteoporosis and fracture risk," Ioannidis said.
"In reality, there may be 500 or more gene variants regulating osteoporosis. To find all of them, we'll need to study millions of patients. Is this unrealistic? I don't think so. Sooner or later this will be feasible," he added.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases has more about
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.