Measuring bone growth velocity is an essential but challenging part of managing disorders of skeletal growth due largely to the many months needed to accurately gauge incremental changes of bone length, which reflects the inherently slow nature of bone growth. While clearly less than ideal, the current practice is accepted because of the lack of methods that yield faster results. We propose a completely new approach that examines the bone growth process directly by analyzing its byproducts as biomarkers of bone growth. Because it addresses bone growth rather than the consequence of bone growth, it potentially offers a much shorter turn around time that could dramatically reduce the interval needed to clinically measure bone growth velocity. We will analyze cartilage turnover as a direct readout of endochondral ossification by measuring terminal degradation products of types II and X collagen in urine. Type II collagen fragments have been measured to assess severity of osteoarthritis in adults establishing proof-of-concept for this approach, but in growing children i whom arthritis is rare, results should reflect endochondral bone growth almost exclusively, especially when coupled with analysis of type X collagen fragments. We will develop the assays, correlate results with bone growth velocity to provide means to assess and monitor bone growth velocity and quantify deficient growth rate and its response to growth promoting therapies. More specifically, we will adapt commercial ELISA kits to measure a type II collagen neoepitope (CTX-II) and develop a comparable assay for type X collagen fragments, which we have designated CXM, and apply them to normally growing children in Aim 1.
In Aim 2 we will correlate biomarker levels with growth (height) velocity over 1 yr in healthy children and develop norms that can be used clinically to gauge growth rate from biomarker measurements. Biomarker sampling and data reporting protocols will be optimized in this aim. Bone growth biomarkers will be assessed in children with chondrodysplasias and growth hormone-responsive forms of short stature and response of the latter group to growth hormone therapy will be monitored by biomarkers in Aim 3. We believe development of this novel approach to assessing linear bone growth velocity in a much shorter time frame than is currently possible will have a major impact on the evaluation and management of pediatric short stature.