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Introduction: The association between osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (OA) is controversial. Although previous studies have shown total body, lower limb, spinal and knee BMD and knee cartilage volume to be positively associated, the relationship between other distant site-specific measures of BMD and other knee structures is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the associations between BMD at eight skeletal sites, and knee structure in asymptomatic young to middle-aged females without any clinical signs of OA. Methods: One hundred and sixty healthy, asymptomatic females (29–50 yr) underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the knee. BMD was measured at the spine, hip, total body and forearm by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and at the calcaneus by quantitative ultrasound. BMD was tested for an association with cartilage volume, defects, and bone marrow lesions (BMLs). Results: Medial cartilage volume was positively associated with BMD at the spine, total body, femoral neck, and Ward's triangle (all p < 0.05), with non-significant associations in the same direction at the trochanter (p = 0.07). Findings in the lateral compartment were similar. The presence of medial cartilage knee defects were also associated with BMD at the spine; defects in the lateral compartment were associated with BMD at the forearm (both p = 0.05). BMD was not associated with the presence of BMLs. No associations were observed with calcaneus BMD. Conclusions: Site-specific BMD is associated with cartilage volume at the knee in asymptomatic young to middle-aged adults, with the direction and effects trending in the same direction. The magnitude of changes correlates with clinically relevant changes. QUS defined calcaneus BMD, showed no associations with knee structure. Although systemic factors may underlie the association between knee cartilage volume and axial/lower limb BMD, these data suggest that common local, possibly biomechanical factors may also play a role.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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