Is There Any Association Between the Presence of Bone Disease and Cumulative Exposure to Lead?
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There is evidence from cell culture experiments, animal studies, and from measurements in humans that lead may exert detrimental effects on bone mineral metabolism. In order to explore a possible association between lead and bone disease, both cortical and trabecular bone lead content as well as serum lead concentration was measured in 117 patients who attended a metabolic bone disease clinic (n = 92) or were undergoing dialysis for renal failure (n = 25). Cortical bone lead content was higher in patients suffering from Paget's disease than it was in controls, patients with osteoporosis, and patients on dialysis. Trabecular bone lead content was lowest in patients with Paget's disease or osteitis fibrosa. There was no association between bone lead content and serum alkaline phosphatase concentration in patients suffering from osteoporosis. No statistically significant differences in serum lead concentrations were found between groups. Our results do not distinguish between the two possibilities that increased bone turnover due to Paget's disease releases lead from trabecular bone which is then available for deposition into cortical bone or the alternative possibility that an increased lead content in cortical bone may cause increased turnover with release of lead from trabecular bone.
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