To examine the relationships between bone loss and sex steroids, 84 peri- and postmenopausal women were studied at 4-mo intervals for 3 yr. At each visit, measurements were made of bone mass at the midshaft and distal radius, of steroids, of gonadotropins, and of bone gla protein (BGP). Bone loss was ~1% per yr among late perimenopausal and postmenopausal groups, whereas the early perimenopausal group lost no bone. Mean serum estrogen and BGP concentrations predicted rates of bone loss. BGP was negatively correlated with the rate of bone loss (r = -0.45) and with mean estrogen concentrations (r = -0.40). Multivariate regressions showed estrogen concentrations to be strong independent predictors of the slope of bone mass over time. When BGP concentrations were added to the models, the significance of estrogen was reduced, suggesting that a portion of the estrogen effect was mediated through effects on rates of bone remodelling.
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