Release of MrOS dataset offers new opportunities for investigators
I’m excited to report to you that the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study group, in collaboration with Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, announced that 16 years of anonymous data on 5,994 older men are now available online to any researcher worldwide who registers at the study website. I invite those of you with an interest in men’s aging and health to visit the study website to see how you might engage with this exceptional dataset of more than 41,000 variables collected across seven timepoints.
MrOS focuses primarily on risk factors and natural history of osteoporosis and fractures in community-dwelling men aged 65 and older. The wider online access to this dataset, we hope, will expand our knowledge about this common condition and related fracture experience. We all know that when older people break bones, mobility, disability and other health problems follow, which can often lead as well to feelings of isolation or to depression. Beyond quality of life, the National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that the economic impact of osteoporosis on the health care system could reach $25.3 billion per year by 2025.
What data are available from MrOS?
The project is funded by the NIA and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). The dataset includes information on study participants recruited at six academic and clinical centers from across the country: the University of Alabama at Birmingham; the University of Minnesota; the University of Pittsburgh; Stanford University; the Oregon Health & Science University, and the University of California, San Diego.
The study built its impressive database over many years. At baseline, the MrOS team examined the participants for fracture risk and conducted neuromuscular visual and cognitive function tests, along with spinal x-rays, and hip and spine bone density exams. They also collected biospecimens. The study’s scope expanded to include assessment of a variety of additional factors, such as oral health, sleep, cardiovascular disease, and falls and physical performance. Participants have been contacted three times a year since their baseline visit via mailed questionnaire for ascertainment of falls, fractures, death and other health measures. A full list of variables for analyses appears on the study’s website.
What are some of the findings of the MrOS study?
Use of the data thus far has been very productive. In some 300 publications citing MrOS data, researchers have discovered determinants of bone loss, risk factors for falls and fractures, advanced imaging techniques for bone, strategies for screening for osteoporosis, and genetic influences on osteoporosis. Highlights of some specific findings show a clear relationship between low vitamin D levels and more rapid rates of bone loss and higher fracture risk in men than in women, that low testosterone levels were associated with increased risk of falls, that gait speed is a powerful predictor of mortality and may be a key vital sign in older men, and that older adults with type 2 diabetes have a higher fracture risk.
Why is the availability of this dataset important?
By making these data more widely available via the website, NIA and NIAMS hope that open access for more researchers to this valuable dataset, especially to investigators in other disciplines outside the osteoporosis field, can help further advance our knowledge of healthy aging, osteoporosis, fractures, and falls, as well as how particular medical conditions may interact with the environment and patient lifestyle to affect healthy aging. We must learn all that we can to help individuals, clinicians, and society address such an important influence on health and overall well-being.
We welcome investigators interested in collaborating with the MrOS study to register at the MrOS website and review the MrOS Publication Guidelines. We also welcome your comments on this post.