Skeletal characteristics such as height (Ht), bone mineral density (BMD) or bone turnover markers are strongly inherited. Common variants in the genes encoding for estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) and beta (ESR2) are proposed as candidates for influencing bone phenotypes at the population level.
We studied 641 healthy premenopausal women aged 20–50 years (yrs) participating into the BONTURNO study. Exclusion criteria were irregular cyclic menses, low trauma fracture, metabolic bone or chronic diseases. Serum C-telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX), osteocalcin (OC), and N-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen (P1NP) were measured in all enrolled subjects, who underwent to lumbar spine (LS), total hip (TH) and femoral neck (FN) BMD evaluation by DXA. Five hundred seventy Caucasian women were genotyped for ESR1 rs2234693 and rs9340799 and ESR2 rs4986938 polymorphisms.
Although no genotype differences were found in body parameters, subjects with combined ESR1 CCGG plus ESR2 AA-AG genotype were taller than those with opposite genotype (P = 0.044). Moreover, ESR1 rs2234693 genotypes correlated with family history of osteoporosis (FHO) and hip fracture (FHF) (P < 0.01), while ESR2 AA-AC genotypes were strongly associated with FHF (OR 2.387, 95% CI 1.432–3.977; P < 0.001).
When clustered by age, 20–30 yrs old subjects, having at least one ESR1 rs2234693 C allele presented lower LS- (P = 0.008) and TH-BMD (P = 0.047) than TT genotypes. In 41–50 yrs age, lower FN-BMD was associated with ESR2 AA (P = 0.0180) subjects than in those with the opposite genotype. ESR1 rs2234693 and rs9340799 and ESR2 rs4986938 polymorphisms did not correlate with age-adjusted values of OC, CTX and P1NP.
These findings support the presence of age-specific effects of ESR1 and ESR2 polymorphisms on various skeletal traits in healthy fertile women.