Estimates of the effects of physical activity on osteoporosis using multivariable Mendelian randomization analysis

This study estimates causality of physical activity (PA) on bone mineral density (BMD) by conducting multivariable Mendelian randomization (MR). The findings suggest that habitual vigorous PA increases lumbar spine BMD, and higher overall acceleration average would improve forearm BMD. The results could promote PA intervention targeting individuals with optimized type.

Introduction: Evidence from epidemiologic studies showed type, frequency, and duration of PA influenced BMD. However, these observational studies may be confounded by many factors, resulting in spurious associations. We aimed to conduct multivariable MR to estimate the causal effect of self-reported and device-measured PA on osteoporosis.

Methods: Three self-reported and two device-measured PA-related traits were selected as exposures. Outcomes were BMD at different skeletal sites: femoral neck BMD (FN BMD), lumbar spine BMD (LS BMD), and forearm BMD (FA BMD). Exposure datasets were obtained from UK Biobank with total 377,234 subjects. Outcome datasets were obtained from GEFOS consortium with 53,236 subjects. Standard MR analysis and multivariable MR were conducted to assess the total and direct causal effect of PA on BMD.

Results: For self-reported PA, inverse-normalized moderate-to-vigorous had a direct causal effect on FN BMD independently (β = – 1.116 (95% confidence interval, 95%CI: – 2.210, – 0.023), P = 0.045); vigorous PA showed a direct effect (β = 3.592 (95%CI: 0.310, 6.874), P = 0.032) on LS BMD independently. While overall acceleration average and fraction of accelerations both had a direct causal effect on FA BMD independently.

Conclusions: Habitual vigorous PA could increase LS BMD. Individuals with higher overall acceleration average would have a higher FA BMD.

Keywords: Bone mineral density; Causal effect; Multivariable Mendelian randomization; Physical activity.