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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25940. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025940. Epub 2011 Oct 14.

Common genetic variants are associated with accelerated bone mineral density loss after hematopoietic cell transplantation.

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Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, United States of America.



Bone mineral density (BMD) loss commonly occurs after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Hypothesizing that genetic variants may influence post-HCT BMD loss, we conducted a prospective study to examine the associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in bone metabolism pathways and acute BMD loss after HCT.


We genotyped 122 SNPs in 45 genes in bone metabolism pathways among 121 autologous and allogeneic HCT patients. BMD changes from pre-HCT to day +100 post-HCT were analyzed in relation to these SNPs in linear regression models. After controlling for clinical risk factors, we identified 16 SNPs associated with spinal or femoral BMD loss following HCT, three of which have been previously implicated in genome-wide association studies of bone phenotypes, including rs2075555 in COL1A1, rs9594738 in RANKL, and rs4870044 in ESR1. When multiple SNPs were considered simultaneously, they explained 5-35% of the variance in post-HCT BMD loss. There was a significant trend between the number of risk alleles and the magnitude of BMD loss, with patients carrying the most risk alleles having the greatest loss.


Our data provide the first evidence that common genetic variants play an important role in BMD loss among HCT patients similar to age-related BMD loss in the general population. This infers that the mechanism for post-HCT bone loss is a normal aging process that is accelerated during HCT. A limitation of our study comes from its small patient population; hence future larger studies are warranted to validate our findings.

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