However, there is an increasing awareness that bone mineral density should not be considered the sole indicator; but that other values including bone shape (morphology) and quality play important roles in determining fracture risk. A panoply of variables - genetic, demographic, environmental, lifestyle - all contribute to a complex set of interactions.
Dr. Kangarloo proposed to obtain a more complete picture of the variables that drive bone density and trabecular structure by examining bone quality within a normal young adult population, gathering information on demographics, health status, and imaging including Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR). In particular, working with Dr. John Adams of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, an expert endocrinologist in bone and mineral metabolism, the role of "the sunshine vitamin" on bone health will be assessed.
The information will be collected and used to create a probabilistic Bayesian belief network (BBN) disease model that can help predict the likelihood of fractures and to assist researchers in identifying variables that should be addressed to optimize bone health. A secondary testbed of known young adults at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures (including renal osteodystrophy and disuse osteoporosis) will be examined to test the predictive power of this model. This research will ultimately aid in clinical decision-making processes affecting bone development and early interventions to limit, if not remove, the risks associated with osteoporosis.