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Important research on osteoporosis of Ton Duc Thang University published in Nature's Scientific Reports

An important research from Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU) may explain why women have higher risk of osteoporotic fracture than men. The research entitled “Sex-difference in bone architecture and bone fragility in Vietnamese” has recently been published in Nature's Scientific Reports.


Screenshot of the article in Scientific Reports

It has long been known that post-menopausal women have higher risk of fragility fracture than elderly men. However, the factors underlying the risk difference are not always clear. There are two types of bone in our body: trabecular bone and cortical bone. Trabecular bone has a spongy structure, and cortical bone is structurally dense and compact. It is hypothesized that the structural difference in trabecular and cortical bone might explain the difference in fracture risk between women and men.

The TDTU research found that for trabecular bone, peak bone mineral density (BMD) in women is lower than that in men by approximately 40% (at the distal radius) and 16% (at the tibia). However, the rate of age-related decline in women was similar to that in men. Moreover, for cortical bone, peak BMD in women and men is comparable, but the rate of decline in women was greater than that in men. Because cortical bone is the main determinant of bone strength, the finding suggests that women have a higher risk of a fracture than men, because they have a greater rate of cortical bone loss than their male counterparts. 

This finding is an important contribution to the international osteoporosis literature. The new research finding is the work of the Bone and Muscle Research Group (BMRg) of TDTU. This study is part of the project called "Vietnam Osteoporosis Study" (VOS) which was initiated in 2015 by Dr. Lan Ho-Pham and Professor Tuan Nguyen. The VOS Project involved more than 4000 men and women, and it is one of the largest osteoporosis research undertakings in the world. The VOS project has been highly successful in generating important data and findings concerning osteoporosis and bone health for the Vietnamese people. The Project has also gained attention from the international osteoporosis research community. 

The publication in Scientific Reports represents the first of its kind in Vietnam and ASEAN. The study involved more than 2000 men and women whose volumetric bone mineral density was measured by pQCT technology. Prof. Nguyen Van Tuan, Director of Bone and Muscle Research Group, noted that “This is a large undertaking for our research group and we have faced many logistic challenges. Every procedure, from the recruitment of participants, clinical testing and measurement of dozens of bone parameters, X-ray, DXA scan, blood collection, blood handling, and biochemical analysis, we had to make sure that they had been properly carried out. Without the help of more than 30 members who have donated thousands of hours in the project, we couldn’t have made it. Conducting large scale population-based research project in Vietnam is a huge challenge. We are glad that we have done it”.