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Army-funded effort examines androgen's role in bone loss

PORTLAND, Ore. An extensive, Oregon Health & Science University-led research effort examining the role of the male sex hormone androgen in bone formation has piqued the interest of the United States military.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, looking to reduce stress fractures and preserve bone health among its young recruits, is funding a four-year, $1.72 million project through the Department of Defense Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program that scientists hope will lead to a better understanding of the molecular and cellular events by which androgen influences the skeleton.

"It turns out that one of the most common injuries sustained in basic training in both men and women is stress fracture in long bones. In this population, there's also anabolic steroid abuse," said the study's lead investigator, Kristine Wiren, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine (endocrinology, diabetes and clinical nutrition) and behavioral neuroscience, OHSU School of Medicine, and research biologist, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

"The goal of the Army in funding this grant is to identify factors that promote a healthy skeleton, that influence stress fractures, and to treat and prevent bone-weakening osteoporosis in the aging population."

Of the 1.3 million bone fractures attributed to osteoporosis each year, 150,000 are hip fractures that occur in men with a 15 percent lifetime risk for the development of fracture. Hip fractures tend to occur over the age of 70; nearly a fourth of the patients who suffer a hip fracture die within the first year; half of patients are unable to walk without assistance; and a third are totally dependent.

Osteoporosis is characterized by a relative decrease in bone formation, mediated by osteoblast cells, versus bone resorption, mediated by osteoclast cells. Androgen testosterone is best-known type and estrogen both contribute to adult bone mass maintenance: Androgen is a
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Contact: Jonathan Modie
modiej@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
16-Nov-2004


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