Heavy metals accumulation affects bone microarchitecture in osteoporotic patients


Manuel Scimeca, Maurizio Feola, Lorenzo Romano, Cecilia Rao, Elena Gasbarra, Elena Bonanno, Maria Luisa Brandi, Umberto Tarantino


Bone metabolism is affected by mechanical, genetic, and environmental factors and plays a major role in osteoporosis. Nevertheless, the influence of environmental pollution on the occurrence of osteoporosis is still unclear and controversial. In this context, heavy metals are the most important pollutants capable to affect bone mass. The aim of this study was to investigate whether heavy metals accumulation in bone tissues could be related to the altered bone metabolism and architecture of osteoporotic patients. To this end, we analyzed 25 bone head biopsies osteoporotic patients and 25 bone head biopsies of osteoarthritic patients. Moreover we enrolled 15 patients underwent hip arthroplasty for high-energy hip fracture or osteonecrosis of the femoral head as a control group. Bone head biopsies were studied by BioQuant-osteo software, scanning electron microscopy and Energy Dispersive X-ray microanalysis. We found a prevalence of lead, cadmium and chromium accumulation in osteoporotic patients. Noteworthy, high levels of sclerostin, detected by immunohistochemistry, correlate with the accumulation of heavy metal found in the bone of osteoporotic patients, suggesting a molecular link between heavy metal accumulation and bone metabolism impairment. In conclusion, the presence of heavy metals into bone shed new light on the comprehension of the pathogenesis of osteoporosis since these elements could play a non redundant role in the development of osteoporosis at cellular/molecular and epigenetic level. Nevertheless, in vivo and in vitro studies need to better elucidate the molecular mechanism in which heavy metals can participate to osteoporosis.