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    Development of musculoskeletal deficits in children with cystic fibrosis in later childhood

    Ireland, A ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1094-9183, Riddell, A, Colombo, A, Ross-Russell, R, Prentice, A and Ward, KA (2023) Development of musculoskeletal deficits in children with cystic fibrosis in later childhood. Bone, 170. p. 116657. ISSN 1873-2763

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    Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition primarily affecting the respiratory system, with the associated progressive lung damage and loss of function resulting in reduced lifespan. Bone health is also impaired in individuals with CF, leading to much higher fracture risk even in adolescence. However, the development of these deficits during growth and the relative contributions of puberty, body size and muscular loading remain somewhat unexplored. We therefore recruited 25 children with CF (10 girls, mean age 11.3 ± 2.9y) and 147 children without CF (75 girls, mean age 12.4 ± 2.6y). Bone characteristics were assessed using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) at 4 % and 66 % distal-proximal tibia. Muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) and density (an indicator of muscle quality) were also assessed at the latter site. Tibial bone microstructure was assessed using high-resolution pQCT (HR-pQCT) at 8 % distal-proximal tibial length. In addition, peak jump power and hop force were measured using jumping mechanography. Group-by-age interactions and group differences in bone and muscle characteristics were examined using multiple linear regression, adjusted for age, sex and pubertal status and in additional models, height and muscle force. In initial models group-by-age interactions were evident for distal tibial total bone mineral content (BMC) and trabecular volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), with a lower rate of age-related accrual evident in children with CF. In assessments of distal tibial microstructure, similar patterns were observed for trabecular number and thickness, and cortical CSA. In the tibial shaft, group-by-age interactions indicating slower growth in CF were evident for total BMC and cortical CSA, whilst age-independent deficits in CF were observed for several other variables. Peak jump power and hop force also exhibited similar interactions. Group-by-age interactions for bone were partially attenuated at the distal tibia and fully attenuated at the tibial shaft by adjustment for muscle force. These results suggest that bone and muscle deficits in children with CF develop throughout later childhood, independent of differences in pubertal stage and body size. These diverging growth patterns appear to be mediated by differences in muscle function, particularly for bone characteristics in the tibial shaft. Given the high fracture risk in this population from childhood onwards, development of interventions to improve bone health would be of substantial clinical value.

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