Osteoporosis is a serious worldwide public health concern. The role of the immune system in the onset of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women is an area of current research. Here we study data from a panel of 10 cytokines obtained from postmenopausal women, with both normal and low bone mineral density (BMD). Normal- and low-BMD groups are compared and contrasted, and further low-BMD participants are sub-classified into osteopenic and osteoporotic based on BMD levels, and compared to each other. Via the use of multivariate statistical tools, we examine contrasting groups in relation to: (a) the presence of subgroups/clusters; (b) whether groups have statistically different multivariate distributions; (c) how strongly groups differ (if at all), which relates to the practical/clinical significant of any differences; and (d) which cytokines contribute most to any differences between groups. We find that the normal- vs. low-BMD groups are markedly different (p
-value = 0.00013), with IL-23, IL-12, TNF-α
, IL-4 and IL-6 being the most important differentiating cytokines. No significant difference between the osteopenic and osteoporotic groups is found (p
-value = 0.81). These findings may aid the development of cytokine therapies for osteoporosis, and suggest the use of certain cytokine profiles as biomarkers for osteoporosis risk factors, and ways to quantify the progress of treatment therapies.
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