Moving toward a prevention strategy for osteoporosis by giving a voice to a silent disease.
Women’s Midlife Health 2016, 2:3 doi:10.1186/s40695-016-0016-0
A major unmet challenge in developing preventative treatment programs for osteoporosis is that the optimal timing of treatment remains unknown. In this commentary we make the argument that the menopausal transition (MT) is a critical period in a woman’s life for bone health, and that efforts aimed at reducing fracture risk later in life may benefit greatly from strategies that treat women earlier with the intent of keeping bones strong as long as possible. Bone strength is an important parameter to monitor during the MT because engineering principles can be applied to differentiate those women that maintain bone strength from those women that lose bone strength and are in need of early treatment. It is critical to understand the underlying mechanistic causes for reduced strength to inform treatment strategies. Combining measures of strength with data on how bone structure changes during the MT may help differentiate whether a woman is losing strength because of excessive bone resorption, insufficient compensatory bone formation, trabeculae loss, or some combination of these factors. Each of these biomechanical mechanisms may require a different treatment strategy to keep bones strong. The technologies that enable physicians to differentially diagnose and treat women in a preventive manner, however, have lagged behind the development of prophylactic treatments for osteoporosis. To take advantage of these treatment options, advances in preventive treatment strategies for osteoporosis may require developing new technologies with imaging resolutions that match the pace by which bone changes during the MT and supplementing a woman’s bone mineral density (BMD)-status with information from engineering-based analyses that reveal the structural and material changes responsible for the decline in bone strength during the menopausal transition.
Keywords: Menopausal transition, Bone, Strength, BMD, Osteoporosis, Biomechanics