Advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are a category of post translational modification associated with the degradation of the structural properties of multiple different types of tissues. Typically, AGEs are the result of a series of post-translational modification reactions between sugars and proteins through a process known as non-enzymatic glycation (NEG). Increases in the rate of NEG of bone tissue are associated with type 2 diabetes and skeletal fragility. Current methods of assessing NEG and its impact on bone fracture risk involve measurement of pentosidine or total fluorescent AGEs (fAGEs). However, pentosidine represents only a small fraction of possible fAGEs present in bone, and neither pentosidine nor total fAGE measurement accounts for non-fluorescent AGEs, which are known to form in significant amounts in skin and other collagenous tissues. Carboxymethyl-lysine (CML) is a non-fluorescent AGE that is often measured and has been shown to accumulate in tissues such as skin, heart, arteries, and intervertebral disks, but is currently not assessed in bone. Here we show the localization of CML to collagen I using mass spectrometry for the first time in human bone. We then present a new method using demineralization followed by heating and trypsin digestion to measure CML content in human bone and demonstrate that CML in bone is 40–100 times greater than pentosidine (the current most commonly used marker of AGEs in bone). We then establish the viability of CML as a measurable AGE in bone by showing that levels of CML, obtained from bone using this technique, increase with age (p < 0.05) and are correlated with previously reported measures of bone toughness. Thus, CML is a viable non-fluorescent AGE target to assess AGE accumulation and fragility in bone. The method developed here to extract and measure CML from human bone could facilitate the development of a new diagnostic assay to evaluate fracture risk and potentially lead to new therapeutic approaches to address bone fragility.
- Bone matrix