Br J Sports Med 32:167-171 doi:10.1136/bjsm.32.2.167

Relation between bone turnover, oestradiol, and energy balance in women distance runners.

  1. C L Zanker,
  2. I L Swaine
  1. Physiology of Exercise Unit, De Montfort University Bedford, United Kingdom.


      OBJECTIVE: To explore relations between biochemical markers of bone turnover, indices of nutritional status, and serum oestradiol concentration in women distance runners. METHODS: Thirty three women distance runners of mean age (SD) 27.2 (1.8) years participated. Eighteen were defined as eumenorrhoeic, nine as amenorrhoeic, and six as oligomenorrhoeic. Mean (SD) running distance was 47.6 (22.4) km/week. Using bivariate correlation and regression analysis, serum levels of osteocalcin and bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP) and also urine deoxypyridinoline/creatinine (Dpyr/Cr) were correlated with mean daily energy balance, body mass index (BMI; kg/m2), and serum levels of total 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine and oestradiol within each group by menstrual status. RESULTS: All the amenorrhoeic women were in negative energy balance; they had a lower BMI, lower serum levels of oestradiol, triiodothyronine, osteocalcin and BAP and a lower urine Dpyr/Cr than any of the oligomenorrhoeic or eumenorrhoeic women. These variables were also lower in oligomenorrhoeic than in eumenorrhoeic women. Positive correlations were observed between serum levels of osteocalcin or BAP and both BMI and serum oestradiol concentration in amenorrhoeic, but not in oligomenorrhoeic or eumenorrhoeic women. Urine Dpyr/Cr did not correlate with any other variable within any group. Serum oestradiol concentration correlated positively with BMI in amenorrhoeic and oligomenorrhoeic, but not eumenorrhoeic women. CONCLUSIONS: Positive correlations between serum levels of bone formation markers, BMI and serum oestradiol concentration in our amenorrhoeic runners suggested that their reduced bone formation was linked to a low BMI and an oestrogen deficiency. Reduced bone turnover in amenorrhoeic distance runners has not previously been shown. These findings emphasise the importance of body mass and its possible link with a chronic energy deficit and hypothalamic dysfunction on bone remodelling balance in amenorrhoeic runners.