A total of 489 elderly women aged 65-75 yr who participated in a 3-yr, randomized, blinded osteoporosis trial underwent measurements of serum estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, and SHBG. At baseline, bone mineral density (BMD) was lower at the femoral sites (7-19%, P < 0.05), total body (6-8%, P < 0.05), and spine (5-9%, P = 0.2) in women in the lowest tertile for serum total estradiol [<9 pg/ml (33 pmol/liter)], serum bioavailable estradiol [<2.4 pg/ml (8.8 pmol/liter)], or highest tertile for serum SHBG (>165 nmol/liter), compared with women in the highest tertiles of total estradiol [>13.3 pg/ml (49 pmol/ liter)] and bioavailable estradiol [>4 pg/ml (14 pmol/liter)] or lowest tertile for SHBG (<113 nmol/liter). Bone markers were increased in women in the lowest tertile for serum total estradiol (not significant) and bioavailable estradiol (P < 0.05) and highest tertile for SHBG (P < 0.05). In the longitudinal study, the rate of bone loss in the placebo group was significantly higher in total body (P < 0.05) and spine (P < 0.05) in women in the lowest tertile, compared with the highest tertile of serum bioavailable estradiol. After treatment with conjugated equine estrogens 0.625 mg/d, the increase in BMD was 4-6% higher at the femoral sites (P < 0.05), total body (P < 0.05), and spine (not significant), in the lowest tertile, compared with the highest tertile of serum bioavailable estradiol or highest tertile, compared with the lowest tertile of serum SHBG. In summary, small variations in endogenous serum estradiol and high serum SHBG determine differences in BMD and rate of bone loss in elderly women and also affect the response to treatment with estrogen. Women with a serum estradiol level of less than 9 pg/ml (33 pmol/liter) are optimal candidates for estrogen therapy for osteoporosis prevention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical