Review Article

Biomarkers in Body Fluids as Indicators of Skeletal Maturity: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Priyanka Kapoor, Rajiv Balachandran, Aman Chowdhry, Giuseppe Perinetti, and Om Prakash Kharbanda


Objectives: This review aimed to critically appraise the evidence for biomarkers in blood serum, gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), saliva, and urine in comparison with standard radiographic indices for skeletal maturation assessment.

Materials and Methods: A thorough literature search in multiple databases was conducted for biomarkers in body fluids for skeletal maturation assessed with cervical vertebrae in lateral cephalograms or on hand-wrist radiographs. Different combinations including free text, MeSH terms, and Boolean operators were used. Two researchers used strict inclusion and exclusion criteria to screen title, abstract, and full text, and used the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS)-2 instrument for risk of bias assessment of individual studies. Meta-analysis was performed on eligible studies using RevMan 5 software.

Results: A total of 344 articles were screened, of which 33 met the inclusion criteria and quality assessment. The skeletal maturity indicators included insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BALP), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), vitamin D binding protein (DBP), parathormone-related protein (PTHrP), osteocalcin, metalloproteins, and serotransferrin (TF) along with different metabolites. At puberty, a significant rise was seen in IGF-1, DBP, ALP, osteocalcin, TF, and BALP. However, the serum DHEAS and PTHrP increased from pre-pubertal to post-pubertal stages. Due to the data heterogeneity, a meta-analysis could be performed on seven studies in total on IGF-1 in serum and blood. Of these, five were included for data in males and six in females, and four studies on IGF-1 in serum and blood. A significant difference in IGF-1 levels was seen between stages of peak pubertal growth spurt (CS3 and CS4) and decelerating pubertal growth (CS5) compared with growth initiation stage (CS2).

Conclusions: Pubertal growth spurts were correlated with peak serum IGF-1 and BALP in both sexes individually. Peak ALP levels in GCF were correlated with the pubertal spurt in a combined sample of males and females. Standard biofluid collection protocols and homogeneity in sampling and methodology are strongly recommended for future research.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2023;14(4):e0021