Endogenous estradiol and the risk of incident fracture in postmenopausal women: The OPUS study

J. Finigan*, F. Gossiel, C. C. Glüer, D. Felsenberg, D. M. Reid, C. Roux, R. Eastell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Some, but not all, studies have found that low endogenous estradiol levels in postmenopausal women are predictive of fractures. The aim of this study was to examine the roles of endogenous estradiol (E 2), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in the prediction of incident vertebral and nonvertebral fractures. The study subjects were 797 postmenopausal women from the population-based OPUS (Osteoporosis and Ultrasound Study) study. Spine radiographs and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans were obtained for all subjects at baseline and 6-year follow-up. Nonfasting blood samples were taken at baseline for E 2, SHBG, DHEAS, and bone turnover markers. Incident nonvertebral fractures were self-reported and verified; vertebral fractures were diagnosed at a single center from spinal radiographs. Medical and lifestyle data were obtained by questionnaire at each visit. Thirty-nine subjects had an incident vertebral fracture and 119 a nonvertebral fracture. Estradiol in the lowest quartile predicted vertebral fracture independent of confounders including age, body mass index, bone mineral density, bone turnover, fracture history, and use of antiresorptive therapy, with an OR of 2.97 (95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.52-5.82) by logistic regression. A calculated free estradiol index was not a stronger predictor than total E 2. Higher SHBG predicted vertebral fracture independently of age and body mass index, but not independently of E 2, bone mineral density, or prevalent fracture. Low DHEAS did not predict vertebral fracture. Nonvertebral fractures were not predicted by any of E 2, SHBG, or DHEAS, either in univariate or multivariate analyses. These findings suggest that there may be mechanistic differences in the protective effect of E 2 at vertebral compared with nonvertebral sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number1
Early online date27 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Estradiol
  • Fracture prediction
  • Menopause
  • Metabolic bone diseases: clinical
  • Nonvertebral fractures
  • Osteoporosis: fractures
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Postmenopausal
  • SHBG
  • Steroid hormones: estrogens
  • Vertebral fractures


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