Influence of Heredity and Environment on Peak Bone Density: A Review of Studies in Croatia
One of the main determinants of who will develop osteoporosis is the amount of bone accumulated at peak bone density. There is poor agreement, however, on when peak bone density occurs. Ethnic differences were observed in age at peak bone density and their correlates. Since the diagnosis of osteoporosis and osteopaenia is based on the comparison between patients' bone mineral density (BMD) and optimal peak bone density in healthy young people (T-score), it is of great importance that each country should provide its own reference peak bone density data.
This review article presents our published results on peak bone density in Croatia and compares them with findings in other populations. Our research included 18 to 25-year-old students from Zagreb University and their parents. The results showed that peak bone mass in young Croatian women was achieved before the age of twenty, but BMD continued to increase after the mid-twenties in the long-bone cortical skeleton. BMD was comparable to the values reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other studies that included the same age groups, except for the cortical part of the radius, where it was significantly lower. Men achieved peak bone density in the spine later than women, which cannot be explained by different diet or physical activity. As expected, heredity was more important for peak bone density than the environmental factors known to be important for bone health. However, the influence of heredity was not as strong as observed in most other populations. It was also weaker in the cortical than in the trabecular parts of the skeleton. Future research should include young adolescent population to define the exact age of achieving peak bone density in different skeletal sites.