Biochemical Markers

Bone is a living tissue that breaks down and rebuilds it structure throughout our lives. That process is known as bone remodeling or bone turnover. Biochemical markers or bone turnover markers can be used to help your healthcare provider determine how rapidly bone is breaking down and forming. Your healthcare provider may also use biochemical markers to monitor how well your osteoporosis medication is working. In fact, biochemical markers can detect how rapidly bone is removed or formed within 3 to 6 months after a person starts taking an osteoporosis medication. Measuring biochemical markers can help determine how well an osteoporosis medication is working.

Some biochemical markers can be measured in blood and some can be measured in urine. Biochemical markers are generally divided into two types: bone breakdown and bone formation markers.

Bone Breakdown Markers:

  • serum C-telopeptide (CTX)
  • urinary N-telopeptide (NTX)

Bone Formation Markers:

  • serum bone specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP)
  • osteocalcin (OC)
  • amino terminal propeptide of type 1 procollagen (P1NP)

It is important to know that these biochemical markers are not used to diagnose osteoporosis; only a bone mineral density test can do that. However, your healthcare provider may evaluate the results of both your bone density tests and your biochemical markers in order to decide on and monitor your treatment plan.