Bone micro-architecture, estimated bone strength, and the muscle-bone interaction in elite athletes: an HR-pQCT study

J D Schipilow, H M Macdonald, A M Liphardt, M Kan, S K Boyd

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


Athletes participating in sports characterized by specific loading modalities have exhibited different levels of augmentation of bone properties; however, the extent to which these loading environments affect bone micro-architecture and estimated bone strength (i.e., bone quality) remains unclear. Furthermore, the relative role of impact loading versus loading due to muscle forces in determining bone properties is confounded. The objectives of this study were 1) to examine the role of impact loading on bone quality of the distal radius and distal tibia in elite athletes, as determined by high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) and finite element analysis (FEA), and 2) to investigate the relationship between bone quality and muscle strength in elite athletes. Ninety-five females (n=59) and males (n=36) between the ages of 16-30 years participated in the study. Participants included alpine skiers (high-impact), soccer players (moderate impact), swimmers (low-impact), and non-athletic controls. All group comparisons were made after accounting for age, height, and body mass. As expected, minimal differences in HR-pQCT parameters across groups were observed at the non weight-bearing distal radius. At the weight-bearing distal tibia, female alpine skiers and soccer players had significantly higher bone density, cortical thickness, and failure load (i.e., bone strength (N) in compression estimated by FEA) than swimmers (p<0.05). Female alpine skiers also had lower trabecular separation than swimmers and controls. Male alpine skiers had 20% higher trabecular bone mineral density than swimmers, and male soccer players exhibited 22% higher trabecular number than swimmers at the distal tibia (p<0.05). Male alpine skiers and soccer players had 28-38% higher failure load at the distal tibia than swimmers. No differences in bone parameters were observed between swimmers and controls for either sex at either site. Both muscle strength and sporting activity were predictors of failure load at the distal tibia in the female cohort. Sporting activity, but not muscle strength, was a significant predictor of failure load in the male cohort at both the radius and tibia. This data suggests that impact loading in sporting activity is highly associated with bone quality. Longitudinal and interventional studies are required to further clarify the muscle-bone interaction.

Seiten (von - bis)281-289
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.10.2013


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