Quantification of aminobutyric acids and their clinical applications as biomarkers for osteoporosis

Zhiying Wang, Liangqiao Bian, Chenglin Mo, Hui Shen, Lan Juan Zhao, Kuan Jui Su, Maciej Kukula, Jauh Tzuoh Lee, Daniel W. Armstrong, Robert Recker, Joan Lappe, Lynda F. Bonewald, Hong Wen Deng, Marco Brotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Osteoporosis is a highly prevalent chronic aging-related disease that frequently is only detected after fracture. We hypothesized that aminobutyric acids could serve as biomarkers for osteoporosis. We developed a quick, accurate, and sensitive screening method for aminobutyric acid isomers and enantiomers yielding correlations with bone mineral density (BMD) and osteoporotic fracture. In serum, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and (R)-3-aminoisobutyric acid (D-BAIBA) have positive associations with physical activity in young lean women. D-BAIBA positively associated with hip BMD in older individuals without osteoporosis/osteopenia. Lower levels of GABA were observed in 60–80 year old women with osteoporotic fractures. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in seven genes related to these metabolites associated with BMD and osteoporosis. In peripheral blood monocytes, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase, an enzyme essential to D-BAIBA generation, exhibited positive association with physical activity and hip BMD. Along with their signaling roles, BAIBA and GABA might serve as biomarkers for diagnosis and treatments of osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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