Fluoride Action Network


INTRODUCTION: Trace elements are known to influence bone metabolism; however, their effects may be exacerbated in renal failure because dialysis patients are unable to excrete excess elements properly. Our study correlated bone quality in dialysis patients with levels of bone fluoride, magnesium, and aluminum. A number of studies have linked trace elements, including fluoride, magnesium, and aluminum, to the development of renal osteodystrophy (ROD). However, little is known about the relationship between trace elements and changes in bone quality in ROD patients. The purpose of this study was to examine bone quality in ROD patients, and correlate differences in bone quality to trace element concentrations in bone. Bone quality encompasses parameters that contribute to the mechanical integrity of the bone.

METHODS: One hundred fifty-three anterior iliac crest bone biopsies from patients with ROD were examined and subdivided into five groups based on the pathological features. Parameters contributing to bone quality, such as bone structure and remodeling, connectivity, mineralization, and microhardness, were assessed and correlated to bone chemical composition. In addition, clinical symptoms of ROD were assessed and correlated with bone composition.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: There were no differences in bone architecture between the different ROD bone groups; however, differences in bone mineralization and microhardness were observed. Increase in bone fluoride was associated with increased osteoid parameters and decreased bone microhardness. Bone mineralization and microhardness decreased with increasing bone magnesium content and intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) level. Moreover, bone magnesium increased with intact PTH levels. The relationship between PTH, bone magnesium, mineralization, and microhardness was primarily observed in aplastic bone disorder. Furthermore, bone magnesium and aluminum contents were positively associated with bone pain and proximal myopathy in these patients. Most importantly, fluoride, magnesium, and aluminum showed significant correlations with one another. These results suggested that in ROD, bone fluoride may diminish bone microhardness by interfering with mineralization. Magnesium may be involved in the suppression of PTH secretion, lowering bone turnover thus leading to an increase in bone mineralization profile and microhardness in aplastic bone disorder. The effects of fluoride and magnesium on bone quality may be exacerbated by their interaction with aluminum.


In conclusion, trace elements such as fluoride, magnesium, and aluminum have an effect on bone in renal failure patients. These trace elements affect the different types of ROD differently, influencing bone through different modes of action. Fluoride interfered with bone mineralization and increased osteoid content, which was most evident in osteomalacia and the mixed bone disorder. In addition, fluoride may interact with aluminum to worsen the osteomalacic lesion. Magnesium appeared to affect bone turnover in aplastic bone disorder, possibly through the suppression of PTH, leading to a change in mineralization and microhardness. Aluminum may also exacerbate this effect of magnesium. The interactions between these three elements are not well understood, in particular the relationship between fluoride and magnesium, and the relationship between aluminum and magnesium.