OBJECTIVE: During puberty, bone growth and mineralization as well as bone turnover increase dramatically. The relation between height velocity and bone turnover is already known, but there are few studies in which both bone metabolism markers and bone mass throughout puberty have been measured.
DESIGN: Semi-longitudinal study. In 155 healthy boys (12.0 +/- 1.5 years; range 8.8-15.7 years) and 151 healthy girls (11.2 +/- 1.6 years; range 8.2-14.0 years) markers of bone formation and bone resorption were measured as well as sex steroids, IGF-1 and IGF-BP3, together with bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine, femur and total body during puberty. All bone measurements were repeated after 1 year.
RESULTS: BMC and BMD increased throughout puberty in both sexes. Bone turnover markers increased significantly until maximum values were reached at stage G4 in boys and stage B3 in girls. Height velocity (HV) had a similar changing pattern. Sex steroids and IGF-1 increased and reached adult values at pubertal stage 4. The correlations between bone metabolism markers and BMC were highly significant in boys, while correlations between bone metabolism markers and the increase in BMC over 1 year were significant in both sexes, as was observed for the correlations with HV.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that bone metabolism markers are good predictors of bone mass in boys and of bone mass increase in both sexes. In early puberty, sex steroids stimulate the pubertal growth spurt in conjunction with GH and IGF-1. The fast increase in height gives rise to an increase in bone turnover and bone mineral apposition. It is known that at the end of puberty high levels of oestradiol inhibit chondrocyte proliferation. This leads to a decline in height velocity and bone turnover. Bone mass still increases under the influence of sex steroids and IGF-1. The data in our study confirm previous reports that markers of bone turnover relate positively to height velocity.