Osteoporosis is one of the most common and serious of the age-related diseases. Primarily affecting women in their post menopausal years, it is responsible for more than 200,000 hip fractures annually. Approximately 24,000 of these patients die within 3 months of the fracture incident. Over 3 million others suffer considerable pain and debility as a result of wrist and spine fractures. Despite an intensive research effort, the cause of osteoporosis still eludes us and we do not yet have satisfactory cures. There are marked racial differences in the susceptibility to osteoporosis. Whites are highly susceptible to the disease, whereas blacks are almost totally immune. The reasons for these racial differences are not clearly understood and must hold important clues to the pathogenetic mechanism(s) underlying the disease. The popular explanation is that black people have a greater skeletal mass than whites, but the scientific basis for this belief is weak. While there are some data to support this conclusion, there is an equal amount of data which suggests that the opposite is the case. However, more importantly, bone mass is not the only, and may not even be the main determinant of bone strength. Surprisingly, there has not been one study in which bone structure has been compared amongst different racial groups. Neither have there been any attempts to study the effect of race on the mechanical properties of bone. The primary goal of this research project is to gain a clear understanding of why this racial difference exists by performing a correlative study of iliac crest and vertebral bone structure and strength as functions of age and sex in black versus white people. The bone structure will be assessed quantitatively using the well-established, powerful technique of bone histomorphometry. The mechanical properties of trabecular bone will be characterized using a materials testing system and will be related to the histomorphometrically-determined structural parameters. By combining these techniques, the proposed study will generate significant new information on the important and intriguing question of why whites are more susceptible to osteoporosis than blacks and, in addition, will provide valuable information on how representative the standard iliac biopsy site is of the axial skeleton both in terms of static histomorphometric measures and mechanical strength.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Unknown (R23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Orthopedics and Musculoskeletal Study Section (ORTH)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Helen Hayes Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Dempster, D W; Ferguson-Pell, M W; Mellish, R W et al. (1993) Relationships between bone structure in the iliac crest and bone structure and strength in the lumbar spine. Osteoporos Int 3:90-6
Parisien, M; Mellish, R W; Silverberg, S J et al. (1992) Maintenance of cancellous bone connectivity in primary hyperparathyroidism: trabecular strut analysis. J Bone Miner Res 7:913-9
Shen, V; Dempster, D W; Birchman, R et al. (1992) Lack of changes in histomorphometric, bone mass, and biochemical parameters in ovariohysterectomized dogs. Bone 13:311-6
Cosman, F; Schnitzer, M B; McCann, P D et al. (1992) Relationships between quantitative histological measurements and noninvasive assessments of bone mass. Bone 13:237-42
Chowdhury, M H; Shen, V; Dempster, D W (1991) Effects of cyclosporine A on chick osteoclasts in vitro. Calcif Tissue Int 49:275-9
Mellish, R W; Ferguson-Pell, M W; Cochran, G V et al. (1991) A new manual method for assessing two-dimensional cancellous bone structure: comparison between iliac crest and lumbar vertebra. J Bone Miner Res 6:689-96
Murrills, R J; Stein, L S; Fey, C P et al. (1990) The effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related peptide on osteoclast resorption of bone slices in vitro: an analysis of pit size and the resorption focus. Endocrinology 127:2648-53
Parisien, M; Silverberg, S J; Shane, E et al. (1990) Bone disease in primary hyperparathyroidism. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 19:19-34
Murrills, R J; Dempster, D W (1990) The effects of stimulators of intracellular cyclic AMP on rat and chick osteoclasts in vitro: validation of a simplified light microscope assay of bone resorption. Bone 11:333-44
Arnett, T R; Dempster, D W (1990) Protons and osteoclasts. J Bone Miner Res 5:1099-103

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications