Abnormalities in bone

Last updated date: 10-Jul-2023

Originally Written in English

Abnormalities in Bone

Abnormalities in bone

Bone is a living tissue that is continuously altered in order to ensure a strong bone, which is necessary for the efficient and long-term performance of vital skeletal activities. Bone has three important functions: first, it gives support and connection points for muscles; second, it covers key organs such as the bone marrow and brain; and third, it acts as a metabolic tissue with significant calcium and phosphate stores. The cortical bone has a mechanical role and protects the body, whereas the trabecular bone serves as a source of strength and, more critically, the bulk of metabolic activity. Because trabecular bone is the primary location of bone turnover, it is also the site of bone remodeling disorders, commonly known as metabolic bone diseases. Bone remodeling is a physiological phenomenon wherein osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) destroy diseased or damaged bone and osteoblasts replace it with new bone (i.e., bone-forming cells).

Bone is made up of 10 percent cells, 60 percent mineral crystals (crystalline hydroxyapatite), and 30 percent organic matrix material. Type 1 collagen accounts for 88 percent of the matrix material, with other proteins accounting for 10 percent and lipids and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) accounting for 1–2 percent. Normal bone remodeling maintains a strict equilibrium between bone resorption (mediated by osteoclasts) and bone production (mediated by osteoblasts) to guarantee that there are no large net changes in bone density or mechanical strength following each remodeling cycle in mature normal healthy bone. The coupling of bone production and bone resorption, which includes a number of synchronized signaling systems, regulates appropriate equilibrium. Nonetheless, under some disease conditions, a mismatch between bone resorption and bone production can occur, leading to aberrant bone remodeling and the development of bone diseases.




Osteoporosis is a condition that increases bone fragility and raises the risk of fractures due to low bone density and degeneration of skeletal structure. Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO] as a bone mineral density (BMD) score that is more than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean for normal young White women. Osteoporosis is a widespread condition that affects millions of people in the United States. It has the potential to be destructive. People with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of fractures, which can be physically debilitating and potentially lead to a downhill slide in physical and mental health. The most prevalent type of osteoporosis is generalized osteoporosis, which affects the entire bone. Osteoporosis can also develop in isolated areas of the bone due to injury or disorders that limit muscular pressures on the bone, such as limb paralysis. Osteoporosis can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Primary osteoporosis is the most prevalent type of osteoporosis, defined as osteoporosis that is not induced by another condition. Secondary osteoporosis refers to bone loss caused by certain conditions or drugs.


Primary Osteoporosis 

Primary Osteoporosis

Primary osteoporosis is mostly a disease of the elderly, and it is caused by the cumulative effects of unbalanced bone turnover and degeneration as people age. This type of osteoporosis is also known as age-related osteoporosis. The term postmenopausal osteoporosis is also used since postmenopausal women are at an increased risk. Primary osteoporosis is uncommon in younger people (including children and adolescents), although it can happen. Because the actual origins of the condition are often unknown, this unusual type of disease is frequently referred to as idiopathic (unknown cause) osteoporosis. Because the exact mechanisms by which the aging process causes bone loss are unknown (for example, why some post-menopausal women get osteoporosis and others do not), age-related osteoporosis is mostly idiopathic.


  • Idiopathic osteoporosis

Idiopathic osteoporosis is a type of unexplained osteoporosis that can affect both children and adolescents, though it is uncommon. Healthy young children between the ages of 8 and 14 are affected by juvenile osteoporosis. Bone maturation is slowed over a significant period of time. The disorder can be moderate, resulting in only one or two collapsed spinal vertebrae, or it can be serious, affecting almost the entire spinal vertebrae. Around the age of puberty, the condition usually typically goes into remission (spontaneously), and normal bone growth resumes. Patients with mild to moderate variants of the condition may develop a curve of the spine (kyphosis) and short stature, whilst those with more severe disease may be disabled for the rest of their lives.

In young people, primary osteoporosis is uncommon. The disease is frequently triggered by another condition or factor in this age range, such as eating disorders or corticosteroid use. When idiopathic types of primary osteoporosis do strike teenagers, men are affected just as much as women (this is in contrast to age-related primary osteoporosis, which occurs more often in women). The disease's features can vary greatly, and it may be caused by more than one disease. Some young adults with idiopathic primary osteoporosis may have a basic impairment in bone cell activity control, leading to reduced bone production, accelerated bone resorption, or both. Others with a moderate variant of the condition may have simply failed to gain enough bone mass during their growth. Even without management, the condition might have a moderate progression in some cases, with just asymptomatic spinal compression fractures as a clinical feature. Multiple spinal fractures, on the other hand, are more likely to occur over a 5–10 years period, resulting in a height reduction of up to 15 cm.


  • Age-related osteoporosis

The most frequent type of osteoporosis is age-related osteoporosis. There are several possible causes for the condition, but the bone loss that results in it usually starts early in life, when corrective measures (such as dietary and physical exercise improvements) could potentially slow down the disease's progression. Although it affects both males and women, it is up to three times greater among women. This is owing in part to the fact that women have two phases of age-related bone loss: a rapid phase that starts at menopause and lasts 4–8 years, and a slower continuous phase that lasts the rest of their lives. Males, on the other hand, just go through the gradual, continuous phase. As a result, women lose more bone mass than males. Women lose 5–10 % of cortical bone (which forms up the hard outer layer of the bone) and 20–30 % of trabecular bone during the rapid phase of bone loss (which fills the ends of the limb bones and the vertebral bodies in the spine, the sites of most osteoporotic fractures). In both males and females, the slow phase of bone loss leads to reductions of 20–25 % of cortical and trabecular bone over a prolonged period of time.

Both the rapid phase of bone loss in postmenopausal women and the slow phase of bone loss in elderly males and females seem to be predominantly the consequence of estrogen deprivation, despite the fact that other factors such as genetics and nutrition have a role. The rapid phase of bone loss in women begins when the ovaries produce less estrogen after menopause. When estrogen stops acting on estrogen receptors in the bone, the bone resorption increases and bone production slows dramatically. The cortical outer layer of the bone thins considerably, and the trabecular bone architecture is damaged as a result. The outside width of the bone can expand with aging, which helps to preserve bone strength.

The slower phase of bone loss, on the other hand, is thought to be caused by a number of factors, including age-related retardation of bone growth, lowered calcium and vitamin D consumption, reduced regular exercise, and the loss of estrogens' potential benefits on calcium homeostasis in the intestine and kidney, as well as its effects on bone. This impairs calcium uptake in the intestine even more, as well as the kidney's ability to preserve calcium. When the amount of calcium taken from the food is inadequate to compensate for the calcium loss in the stool and urine, serum calcium drops. As a result, parathyroid hormone levels rise, taking calcium from bone to compensate for the loss. this aggravates osteoporosis.


Secondary Osteoporosis

Secondary Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis often develops as a secondary effect of another disease or pharmaceutical use in young adults and even elderly people. A wide range of disorders, as well as some drugs and hazardous chemicals, can cause or contribute to osteoporosis onset. Secondary osteoporosis refers to people who develop the disease as a result of these external factors. They usually have more bone loss than a normal person of the same age, gender, and race. According to some statistics, the majority of men and women with osteoporosis have secondary causes of the disease. Furthermore, up to one-third of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis have other medical disorders that may lead to osteoporosis.

  • Hereditary diseases

Secondary osteoporosis has been related to a number of hereditary disorders. The most common causes are idiopathic hypercalciuria and cystic fibrosis. Due to a multitude of variables, including calcium and vitamin D malabsorption, decreased sex steroid production and sexual growth retardation, and elevated inflammatory mediators, patients with cystic fibrosis have significantly lower bone density and higher fracture risks. Some people with idiopathic hypercalciuria have a deficiency in their kidney's capacity to store calcium. If they are instructed to reduce the calcium intake in order to avoid kidney stones, this disease may worsen. These people have low bone density, and they may benefit from medications that reduce calcium output in the urine. Other genetic abnormalities, however uncommon, should be examined once more prevalent etiologies of osteoporosis have been ruled out.


  • Parathyroid diseases

Primary hyperparathyroidism is a reasonably common disease that is characterized by increased parathyroid hormone release in elderly people, particularly postmenopausal females. The most common cause is a benign tumor (adenoma) in one or more parathyroid glands; parathyroid malignant incidence is very rare (less than 0.5 percent of the time). Since most patients now seek medical attention when an unusually elevated calcium level in the blood is discovered unexpectedly during a routine examination, the clinical manifestations have evolved over the last 30 years from a rare but highly symptomatic disease involving renal stones and bone diseases to a common but fairly asymptomatic disease. In primary hyperparathyroidism, cortical bone is usually impacted more than trabecular bone.


  • Gastrointestinal diseases

Bone disease can be caused by disorders that diminish calcium and phosphorus absorption in the intestine or reduce vitamin D availability. Osteoporosis is caused by moderate malabsorption, whereas osteomalacia is caused by significant malabsorption. Celiac disease, which is caused by gluten-induced inflammation of the small intestine, is a significant and often-overlooked causative factor of secondary osteoporosis. Similarly, osteoporosis and fractures have been discovered in patients who have had a gastrectomy (removal of a portion of the stomach), particularly in females. Even in morbidly obese females with normal bone density, bone loss can occur after gastric bypass surgery. Patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis had higher rates of osteoporosis and fractures. Glucocorticoids, which are often used to treat both diseases, are thought to play a role in osteoporosis. Similarly, disorders that affect liver function (primary biliary cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, liver cirrhosis) can lead to disrupted vitamin D absorption, as well as bone loss through other pathways. Primary biliary cirrhosis is related to the high rate of osteoporosis. Fractures are more common in people with alcoholic liver disease than in patients with other kinds of liver disease, though this could be due to heavy drinkers' higher risk of falling.


Rickets and Osteomalacia

Rickets and Osteomalacia

Rickets (a disease that affects children) and osteomalacia (a disease that affects adults) are fairly uncommon disorders because they can be avoided by providing adequate levels of vitamin D. These disorders have the potential to be fatal to individuals who contract them.

Rickets is a syndrome caused by a delay in the deposition of calcium and phosphate minerals in growing bones, which leads to skeletal abnormalities, particularly bowed legs, as a result of various pediatric diseases. Osteomalacia is the adult version of the condition. Inadequate bone mineralization does not produce skeletal deformities in adults since longitudinal growth has ended, but it can result in fractures, especially in weight-bearing bones like the pelvis, hip, and foot. Many people with rickets and osteomalacia report bone pain and muscular weakness even if they do not have a fracture.

The most common causes of rickets and osteomalacia are a number of environmental conditions. While uncommon, the disease can be passed down the generations due to genetic mutations in the gene that make the enzyme that converts 25-hydroxy vitamin D to the activated state, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, or the gene that makes the vitamin D receptor. Diseases that induce a significant loss of phosphorus from the body can also cause osteomalacia. This can be inherited or acquired in patients with malignancies that release a protein that interferes with phosphorus transport in the kidney.

Because vitamin D is produced in the skin by exposure to sunlight, the most prevalent reason is a lack of exposure to sunlight. This is especially true in northern climates, where the winter light lacks the ability to produce vitamin D in the skin. As a result, those residing in northern climates are more likely to get the condition, particularly immigrants with darker skin pigment that inhibits vitamin D production or who frequently cover themselves. This condition can also affect children who are restricted to their homes and people who are housebound (e.g., due to chronic ill health or frailty). Patients with gastrointestinal illnesses, such as gastrectomy, malabsorption diseases, and small bowel resection, are at an increased risk since these diseases impair vitamin D absorption from the diet.

Phosphate depletion causes the second type of rickets and osteomalacia. This disorder can be passed down through the generations (known as X-linked hypophosphatemic rickets), although it is more usually caused by other factors. Individuals with disorders that affect the kidney's capacity to keep phosphate quickly, as well as those with disorders of the renal tubule that impact the location of phosphate reabsorption, are at risk for this condition. While most foods are high in phosphate, phosphate insufficiency can also be caused by taking significant amounts of antacids that include aluminum hydroxide, which inhibits dietary phosphate from being absorbed. Finally, persons with acquired or congenital deficiencies in acid secretion by the renal tubule, as well as those who take particular medications that interact with phosphate absorption or the bone remodeling process, may develop rickets due to phosphate insufficiency.


Renal Osteodystrophy

Renal Osteodystrophy

People with chronic kidney impairment are at risk for not just rickets and osteomalacia, but also renal osteodystrophy, a complex bone condition. The activation of bone turnover produced by an elevation in parathyroid hormone and the delay in bone mineralization caused by reduced renal synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D characterize this disorder. In addition, some people have a condition known as adynamic bone disease, which is characterized by a failure of bone production. Because of this complication, bone samples are frequently required to provide an accurate diagnosis. Clinical signs of the condition occur by the time the patient reaches end-stage kidney failure, including bone cysts resulting from excess parathyroid hormone stimulating bone resorption. While hemodialysis can considerably increase the life expectancy of patients with chronic renal failure, it will do nothing to stop the osteodystrophy from progressing. 

In fact, dialysis management of the patient may result in additional bone abnormalities that are superimposed on the existing osteodystrophy, raising the risk of fractures. While a kidney transplant (which is being provided to an increasing number of dialysis patients) can reverse many of the symptoms of renal osteodystrophy, anti-rejection medicine can cause bone loss and fractures in transplant patients.


Paget’s Disease of the Bone

Paget’s Disease of the Bone

Paget's disease of bone is a chronic bone remodeling illness that affects the spine, pelvis, legs, and head. Its severity can be reduced if detected early. Because of an increased number of hyperactive osteoclasts, people with this disease undergo increased bone loss at the affected site. While bone growth rises to compensate for loss, the quick synthesis of new bone results in an unorganized structure. Increased development of blood vessels and connective tissue in the bone marrow is related to the increased size of the resultant bone. Deformity or fracture becomes more likely as the bone ages. The disorder may have no clinical manifestations or symptoms, or it may be accompanied by bone soreness, deformity, fracture, or osteoarthritis of the joints adjacent to the defective bone, depending on where it occurs. Because of the entrapment of nerve tissue by pagetic bone, Paget's disease of bone can induce a range of neurological problems. The development of osteosarcoma complicates the condition in a relatively small number of patients (likely less than 1% of the time).

Even though Paget's disease is the second most prevalent bone disease following osteoporosis, many concerns about its pathophysiology remain unanswered. Paget's illness has a strong familial propensity, although no single genetic mutation has been discovered that can account for all cases. Paget's disease can be passed down through generations in an affected family; 15–40% of patients have a relative who has the condition. According to studies conducted in the United States, a close relative of a pagetic patient is 7 times more likely to have the disease than someone who does not have a related who is affected. However, in the vast majority of cases, environmental factors are likely to have a role. Paget's disease, for instance, has been linked to a slow virus infection with measles in several investigations.


Case Scenario

Paget's disease can manifest itself in a variety of ways because it affects bones all over the body. An example scenario might be a man in his sixties who visits his physician with hip pain. The doctor may diagnose him with arthritis and tell him to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Screening tests may reveal a high alkaline phosphatase level many years later. This test would subsequently lead to the utilization of a bone scan and radiography, which might reveal Paget's femur disease. However, by this time, the man's leg has most certainly bowed and his joints have been damaged, neither of which can be restored with treatment. Treatment with bisphosphonate, on the other hand, can halt the disease's progression. As a result, the man will be in pain for the rest of his life and will walk with a limp. The man, his family, and his physician, predictably, all wish the diagnosis had been made sooner. They decide to examine the man's family because Paget's disease runs in families. These examinations revealed that the man's younger brother suffers from the same condition. He is treated right away, and no defects appear.



Abnormalities in bone

Our knowledge of bone remodeling disorders and targeted therapeutics is quickly evolving as the unanswered questions of bone biology are being solved at an unprecedented rate. We may predict and describe the underlying pathophysiology of various bone disorders using the idea of the basic multicellular unit as the basic functional anatomic unit of bone remodeling and turnover. Primary osteoporosis, both postmenopausal and age-related, is by far the most frequent of the eight types of bone remodeling. The identification of the functions of RANK/RANKL and osteoprotegerin in osteoclastogenesis is an example of basic biology discoveries that are being transferred into clinical practice.

The discovery of the impulses that control the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells—not only into osteoblasts but also into fat cells, chondrocytes, and muscle cells—could help us better understand mineral deposition and bone formation abnormalities, as well as lead to the development of new anabolic bone-building therapies. Even though molecular abnormalities in osteoclast function are uncommon in osteoporosis, they have established the essential components and molecular modulation of osteoclast activity. Greater knowledge of the intricate molecular components of bone remodeling will likely lead to the development of even more novel treatments in the future.