Bone lead (Pb) content at the tibia is associated with thinner distal tibia cortices and lower volumetric bone density in postmenopausal women.
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Conflicting evidence suggests that bone lead or blood lead may reduce areal bone mineral density (BMD). Little is known about how lead at either compartment affects bone structure. This study examined postmenopausal women (N=38, mean age 76 ± 8, body mass index (BMI): 26.74 ± 4.26 kg/m(2)) within the Hamilton cohort of the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos), measuring bone lead at 66% of the non-dominant leg and at the calcaneus using (109)Cadmium X-ray fluorescence. Volumetric BMD and structural parameters were obtained from peripheral quantitative computed tomography images (200 μm in-plane resolution, 2.3 ± 0.5mm slice thickness) of the same 66% site and of the distal 4% site of the tibia length. Blood lead was measured using atomic absorption spectrometry and blood-to-bone lead partition coefficients (PBB, log ratio) were computed. Multivariable linear regression examined each of bone lead at the 66% tibia, calcaneus, blood lead and PBB as related to each of volumetric BMD and structural parameters, adjusting for age and BMI, diabetes or antiresorptive therapy. Regression coefficients were reported along with 95% confidence intervals. Higher amounts of bone lead at the tibia were associated with thinner distal tibia cortices (-0.972 (-1.882, -0.061) per 100 μg Pb/g of bone mineral) and integral volumetric BMD (-3.05 (-6.05, -0.05) per μg Pb/g of bone mineral). A higher PBB was associated with larger trabecular separation (0.115 (0.053, 0.178)), lower trabecular volumetric BMD (-26.83 (-50.37, -3.29)) and trabecular number (-0.08 (-0.14, -0.02)), per 100 μg Pb/g of bone mineral after adjusting for age and BMI, and remained significant while accounting for diabetes or use of antiresorptives. Total lead exposure activities related to bone lead at the calcaneus (8.29 (0.11, 16.48)) and remained significant after age and antiresorptives-adjustment. Lead accumulated in bone can have a mild insult on bone structure; but greater partitioning of lead in blood versus bone revealed more dramatic effects on both microstructure and volumetric BMD.
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