Chronic systemic inflammation sets the stage for disease. It is also the common unifying link between osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. In my book The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis, I explain how biomarkers of inflammation such as homocysteine, hsCRP, 8OH2DG, and lipid peroxides can be used as therapeutic targets in the nutritional management of bone loss.

Now there may be another inflammatory marker linked to osteoporosis and it’s called mean platelet volume or MPV. Platelets are small cell fragments that circulate in your blood and are involved in the formation of blood clots. It’s important to know how many platelets you have, and also their size. When your doctor orders a CBC to evaluate your blood, one of the indices is the MPV. Your doctor is always interested in MPV because it’s an early inflammatory marker for platelet activation and seen a contributor to coronary heart disease.

In addition to contributing to the formation of blood clots, platelets also contain growth factors. We know, for example, that platelets produce growth factors that stimulate the development and activation of bone cells. Platelets are therefore very important for bone remodeling and for maintaining a healthy skeleton. But there is more. In a recent study from China (Yue-song, L., 2012), researchers found that platelets may have even more importance to bone health. The study evaluated 410 subjects and found a negative correlation between MPV and bone mineral density (BMD). In other words, the higher your MPV the lower your BMD. This makes sense since MPV is a marker of inflammation. The results of this study not only provide additional evidence that chronic inflammation is a common mechanism in the development of osteoporosis and heart disease, but it may also point to another marker to target in the therapeutic management of bone loss.

Yue-song Li, et al. 2012. Mean platelet volume is negatively associated with bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism DOI:10.107/s00774-012-0362-4.