Osteoporosis Linked to Genetic Factors in New Worldwide Study

New research revealed in the journal Nature Genetics has shown a link between certain genetic factors and osteoporosis, a disease of the bones that leads to increased risk of fracture and painful breaks.

The study pulled data from countries across the globe, and involved more than 80,000 people across Europe, North America, East Asia and Australia. What the researchers working in concert across several regions discovered is that the genome has variants in 56 regions that impact bone mineral density, and that 14 of those variants are likely to increase an individual’s risk of bone fracture. Scans were used to measure the participants’ bone density.

Professor Cyrus Cooper is director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton. Cooper’s unit contributed to the research responsible for unlocking the genetic risks, and said that it was the first time so many variants in the genome had been associated with osteoporosis risk. He explains:

“The findings will lead to the discovery of novel therapies against this common and crippling condition… The study has provided critical information on the interaction between genes and the early environment in determining later bone density, bone strength and fracture risk.”

osteoporosis genetic

The study was led by Dr. Fernando Rivadeneira, assistant professor in Erasmus MC. He explained that it was long suspected that osteoporosis was genetically predetermined, but that until now, the specifics were not known to this degree. He comments:

“We have now pinpointed many factors in critical molecular pathways which are candidates for therapeutic applications.”

The study was led by researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, and it encompassed more than 50 studies worldwide.