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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;92(2):443-9. Epub 2006 Nov 14.

Sex- and age-specific reference curves for serum markers of bone turnover in healthy children from 2 months to 18 years.

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Department of Pediatrics 1, Medical University Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.



This study aimed to establish sex- and age-specific reference curves enabling the calculation of z-scores and to examine correlations between bone markers and anthropometric data.


Morning blood samples were obtained from 572 healthy children and adolescents (300 boys) aged 2 months to 18 yr. Height, weight, and pubertal stage were recorded. Serum osteocalcin (OC), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BALP), type-1 collagen degradation markers [carboxyterminal telopeptide region of type I collagen (ICTP), carboxyterminal telopeptide alpha1 chain of type I collagen (CTX)], and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP5b) were measured. Cross-sectional centile charts were created for the 3rd, 50th, and 97th centiles.


Apart from TRAP5b, all bone markers were nonnormally distributed, requiring logarithmic (BALP, OC, ICTP) or square root (CTX) transformation. Back-transformed centile curves for age and sex are presented for practical use. All bone markers varied with age and pubertal stage (P < 0.001). Significant correlations were found between sd score (SDS) for bone formation markers BALP and OC (r = 0.13; P = 0.004), SDS for collagen degradation markers ICTP and CTX (r = 0.14; P = 0.002), and SDS for the phosphatases (r = 0.34, P < 0.001). Height and weight SDS correlated weakly with some bone marker SDS, particularly with lnBALP SDS (r = 0.20 and 0.24, respectively; both P < 0.001).


This study provides reference curves for OC, BALP, CTX, ICTP, and TRAP5b in healthy children. Taller and heavier individuals for age had greater bone marker concentrations, likely reflecting greater growth velocity. SDS for markers of bone formation, collagen degradation, and phosphatases were each independently correlated, suggesting they derive from the same biological processes. The possibility of calculating SDS will facilitate monitoring of antiresorptive therapy or disease progression in children with metabolic bone disease.

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