Back in the 1960s a revolutionary breakthrough in x-ray technology lead to the invention of the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machine. This new technology, introduced by Dr. Richard Cameron and Dr. Richard, was originally used to measure bone density and mass. However, in addition to bone density measurement, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry also turned out to be a highly effective way to better discriminate between soft tissues from bone and thereby enhance the direct bone edge measurement. (1)
Despite all this, it wasn’t until 1988 that DXA would be approved for clinical use, over 20 years after the first commercially available DXA machine became available in 1967. Fast forward to today and we find DXA units being used for many different clinical functions including research and diagnosis. Firstly, we see DXA being used for its original purpose; that is to measure bone density to help diagnose osteoporosis and assess fracture risk in patients. In fact, the technology can help provide an estimate on the 10-year probability of a major fracture (clinical spine, wrist, proximal humerus, and hip) or hip alone. For arthritis or osteoarthritis studies, the DXA plays a vital role in providing accurate and precise bone mineral density and bone mineral content values.
Another function DXA serves is in clinical research of weight loss. DXA is exceptional for measuring body composition because it accurately shows exactly where fat is distributed throughout the body. The system directly measures and calculates total fat, lean, and bone tissue instead of only body composition. For weight loss studies, serial measurements over a time period (weight loss studies are usually a minimum of 6 months in length) with a DXA provide a comprehensive assessment of body compartments independent of changes in classic anthropometry (body mass index and waist circumference), identifying a significant redistribution of lean and fat mass all the while providing robust results for your weight loss study. More specifically, the DXA guarantees a precise assessment of the three main body components, (i) bone mineral content, (ii) non-bone lean mass (LM), and (ii) fat mass (FM), both at the whole body and at a regional level, as well as the measurement of the amount of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), thanks to recent software developments.
Lastly, to mention, DXA also plays a vital role in Sports Nutrition Studies. When looking to evaluate the efficacy and effects of a sports nutrition supplement, measuring body composition over time will provide specific results and help highlight the changes over time. Not only specific to total body composition, trunk, arm, and leg composition can also be measured to show increases in lean mass.
Finding the right CRO to conduct these particular studies is vital. At dicentra, we utilize our DXA for these particular studies. dicentra’s multidisciplinary team of clinical research professionals is ready to assist you in any or all phases of your nutraceutical clinical research portfolios with an optimized and transparent approach to foster your research success.