Strontium is receiving widespread attention due to its remarkable biological qualities in preventing bone resorption and fostering osteogenesis. However, the chemical processes behind strontium's dual activities on bone cells are not yet fully understood. This study used the metabolomic technique to identify and examine potential biomarkers between strontium exposure and osteoporosis (OP) risk. A total of 806 participants were recruited for the detection of plasma strontium content via inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry. Plasma metabolites were profiled in 254 participants through an untargeted metabolomics technique. Generalized linear models were primarily used to analyze associations among plasma strontium, metabolites, and OP. The mediating effects of metabolites on the strontium–OP association were further investigated. A total of 31 differential metabolites were observed, 10 of which were upregulated and 21 were downregulated in the OP group compared with the non-OP group. Five metabolites (3-phenoxybenzoic acid, Cer (t18:0/16:1), HexCer(t16:1/12:1(2OH)), HexCer(t14:2/18:1(2OH)), and TG(16:0–18:1–24:4)) were selected as potential mediators based on their significant association with OP risk and with femoral neck and lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD). Moreover, all except TG(16:0–18:1–24:4) were involved in the OP discrimination model with excellent power combined with several traditional variables. 3-Phenoxybenzoic acid and Cer(t18:0/16:1) had significant indirect effects on the strontium–OP association. The five candidate metabolites mediated 83.79 % of the strontium–OP association. Plasma strontium level was associated with reduced OP risk in the Han population in Wuhan. Thus, plasma metabolite profiling revealed five BMD/OP-associated metabolites that acted as mediators in the strontium–OP association. Our findings provided evidence of the mediating role of host plasma metabolites in strontium's effect on OP pathology.
Strontium; Metabolites; Osteoporosis; Bone mineral density; Mediation effect