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Journal of Osteoporosis
Volume 2011, Article ID 702735, 4 pages
Review Article

The Bone-Muscle Relationship in Men and Women

Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0946, USA

Received 30 June 2011; Accepted 10 August 2011

Academic Editor: Pawel Szulc

Copyright © 2011 Thomas F. Lang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Muscle forces are a strong determinant of bone structure, particularly during the process of growth and development. The gender divergence in the bone-muscle relationship becomes strongly evident during adolescence. In females, growth is characterized by increased estrogen levels and increased mass and strength of bone relative to that of muscle, whereas in men, increases in testosterone fuel large increases in muscle, resulting in muscle forces that coincide with a large growth in bone dimensions and strength. In adulthood, significant age-related losses are observed for both bone and muscle tissues. Large decrease in estrogen levels in women appears to diminish the skeleton's responsiveness to exercise more than in men. In contrast, the aging of the muscle-bone axis in men is a function of age related declines in both hormones. In addition to the well-known age related changes in the mechanical loading of bone by muscle, newer studies appear to provide evidence of age- and gender-related variations in molecular signaling between bone and muscle that are independent of purely mechanical interactions. In summary, gender differences in the acquisition and age-related loss in bone and muscle tissues may be important for developing gender-specific strategies for using exercise to reduce bone loss with aging.