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Osteocalcin Blood Test

Last updated Aug. 21, 2016

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • BGP Blood Test
  • Bone G1a Protein Blood Test
  • G1a Protein Blood Test

What is Osteocalcin Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Osteocalcin is a protein found in bones. It is made by osteoblasts, which are special cells that build and maintain bone matrix. Osteocalcin is needed for bone mineralization and bone formation
  • Osteocalcin levels help give an estimate of bone metabolism. A small amount of osteocalcin is released in blood. Increased levels indicate abnormally high bone degradation, common with bone disorders such as osteoporosis
  • The Osteocalcin Blood Test helps determine the levels of osteocalcin in blood. It is used in conjunction with bone density scans to diagnose bone disorders such as osteoporosis

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Osteocalcin Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Osteocalcin Blood Test: 

  • Bone pain
  • Loss of height
  • Easily fractured bones and/or unusual fractures
  • Joint pain
  • Enlargement of the face and extremities
  • Bulging chest
  • Large tongue
  • Fatigue, headache
  • Joint stiffness

How is the Specimen Collected for Osteocalcin Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Osteocalcin Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood 

Process of obtaining a blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Osteocalcin Blood Test Result?

The significance of the Osteocalcin Blood Test is explained:

  • A high level (greater than 11.5 ng/mL in men and 11 ng/mL in women) for the test may point to a diagnosis of the following conditions:
    • Bone fracture
    • Osteoporosis
    • Acromegaly
    • Bone cancer
    • Paget’s disease
    • Hyperparathyroidism
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Estrogen deficiency
    • Calcium deficiency
    • Osteomalacia
    • Kidney failure
  • A low level (less than 1.5 ng/mL in men and 0.5 ng/mL in women) for the test may point to a diagnosis of the following conditions:
    • Hypoparathyroidism
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Cirrhosis of the liver

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • It is normal for children between 10 and 16 years old, experiencing a growth spurt, to possess a high level of osteocalcin

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information: http://www.dovemed.com/bone-markers/

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Kee, J. L. (2010). Laboratory and diagnostic tests with nursing implications (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Martini, F., Nath, J. L., & Bartholomew, E. F. (2012). Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology (9th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

Williamson, M. A., Snyder, L. M., & Wallach, J. B. (2011). Wallach's interpretation of diagnostic tests (9th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Levinger, I., Jerums, G., Stepto, N. K., Parker, L., Serpiello, F. R., McConell, G. K., ... & Seeman, E. (2014). The effect of acute exercise on undercarboxylated osteocalcin and insulin sensitivity in obese men. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 29(12), 2571-2576.

Lenders, C. M., Lee, P. D., Feldman, H. A., Wilson, D. M., Abrams, S. H., Gitelman, S. E., ... & Chen, T. C. (2013). A cross‐sectional study of osteocalcin and body fat measures among obese adolescents. Obesity, 21(4), 808-814.

Oosterwerff, M. M., Schoor, N. M., Lips, P., & Eekhoff, E. M. (2013). Osteocalcin as a predictor of the metabolic syndrome in older persons: a population‐based study. Clinical endocrinology, 78(2), 242-247.

Jürimäe, J., Vaiksaar, S., Purge, P., & Jürimäe, T. (2016). Adiponectin and osteocalcin responses to rowing exercise, and the relationship to substrate oxidation in female rowers. Physiology International (Acta Physiologica Hungarica), 103(2), 220-230.

Oury, F., Khrimian, L., Denny, C. A., Gardin, A., Chamouni, A., Goeden, N., ... & Suyama, S. (2013). Maternal and offspring pools of osteocalcin influence brain development and functions. Cell, 155(1), 228-241.

Díaz-López, A., Bulló, M., Juanola-Falgarona, M., Martínez-González, M. A., Estruch, R., Covas, M. I., ... & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2013). Reduced serum concentrations of carboxylated and undercarboxylated osteocalcin are associated with risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus in a high cardiovascular risk population: a nested case-control study. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 98(11), 4524-4531.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 21, 2016
Last updated: Aug. 21, 2016