Candidate Biomarkers for Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

Press Release ( - Washington, DC - Jan 26, 2017 - ​​An article published in Experimental Biology and Medicine (Volume 242, Issue 2, January, 2017) reports a new method for identifying women at risk for osteoporotic fractures.  The study, led by Dr. Katre Maasalu, Associate Professor and orthopedic surgeon from Traumatology and Orthopeadic Clinic of Tartu University, demonstrated that a biomarker panel consisting of six genes could distinguish postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, a major risk factor for fracture, from those without osteoporosis.    

Every third woman over the age of 50 is believed to experience osteoporotic fracture, and the costs associated with treating osteoporotic fractures increase each year. Postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMOP) is caused by changes in the levels of reproductive hormones. Decreased estrogen levels and increased follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone levels are believed to be major factors contributing to the PMOP. While bone mineral density decrease is indicative of a high risk of fracture, most fractures occur in women with moderate risk levels. Thus, sensitive and minimally invasive methods are needed for early diagnosis and fracture prevention.

The current study led by Dr. Maasalu and colleagues, profiled the blood mRNA in Estonian females with and without POMP.  The study identified 214 genes that were differentially expressed in the blood of the patients with PMOP. The study also identified a potential osteoporosis biomarker pattern consisting of six genes. Co-author Sulev Kõks, Professor of genomics and Head of Pathophysiology Department of Tartu University, said: “This pattern in full or even single genes can be used as biomarkers to monitor the progression of POMP”.

Further functional network analysis of the differentially regulated genes indicated  activation of the FSH-ERK signaling networks, and explains the mechanisms that lead to increased osteoclast activity and bone resorption in POMP. Dr. Maasalu, Associate Professor and orthopedic surgeon from Traumatology and Orthopeadic Clinic of Tartu University, stated: “Osteoporosis is very common disease, but there are still many unsolved problems. The most sustainable approach would be to prevent osteoporotic fractures and to treat bone changes at an early stage. Discovery of a PMOP biomarkers would bring us closer to early detection of patients at a risk group.“

Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said, “Maasalu and colleagues have performed transcriptome analysis on whole blood serum leading to six candidate biomarker genes that correlate strongly with osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Future verification and validation studies could lead to prognostic biomarkers for osteoporosis. “

About Experimental Biology and Medicine

Experimental Biology and Medicine is a journal dedicated to the publication of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences. The journal was first established in 1903. Experimental Biology and Medicine is the journal of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine. To learn about the benefits of society membership visit If you are interested in publishing in the journal, please visit

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Source : Experimental Biology and Medicine

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