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Bone. 2009 May;44(5):1003-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2008.12.019. Epub 2009 Jan 3.

Associations of genetic lactase non-persistence and sex with bone loss in young adulthood.

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Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, Division of Nutrition, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Some studies have reported that after attainment of peak bone mass (PBM), slow bone loss may occur in both men and women; however, findings are inconsistent. Genetic factors play a significant role in bone loss, but the available evidence is conflicting. Genetic lactase non-persistence (lactase C/C(-13910) genotype) is suggested to increase risk for inadequate calcium intake predisposing to poorer bone health. We investigated whether this genotype is associated with PBM and bone loss in young Finnish adults. Subjects belong to the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study that is an ongoing multi-centre follow-up of atherosclerosis risk factors. From the original cohort, randomly selected subjects aged 20-29 participated in baseline bone mineral density (BMD) measurements (n=358), and in follow-up measurements 12 years later (n=157). Bone mineral content (BMC) and BMD at lumbar spine (LS) and femoral neck (FN) were measured at baseline and follow-up with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Lactase C/T(-13910) polymorphism was determined by PCR and allele-specific fluorogenic probes. Information on lifestyle was elicited with questionnaires. During the follow-up, bone loss at both bone sites was greater in males (LS BMD: -1.1%, FN BMD: -5.2%) than in females (LS BMD: +2.1%, FN BMD: -0.7%) (both bone sites p=0.001). Younger age predicted greater loss of FN BMC and BMD in females (p=0.013 and p=0.001, respectively). Increased calcium intake predicted FN BMD gain in both sexes (in females B=0.007 g/cm(2)/mg, p=0.002; in males B=0.006, p=0.045), and increased physical activity LS BMD gain in females (B=0.091 g/cm(2)/physical activity point, p=0.023). PBM did not differ between the lactase genotypes, but males with the CC(-13910) genotype seemed to be prone to greater bone loss during the follow-up (LS BMD: C/C vs. T/T p=0.081). In conclusion, bone loss in young adulthood was more common in males than in females and seemed to occur mainly at the femoral neck. Young males with the lactase CC(-13910) genotype may be more susceptible to bone loss; however, calcium intake predicts changes in bone mass more than the lactase genotype.

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