Potential role of proinflammatory cytokines in nerve damage related bone loss

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2004;40:266-71.


An estimated 375,000 people are currently suffering from spinal cord injuries and another 1.5 million are afflicted by peripheral nerve damage in the United States. Wolf's Law states that a bone grows or remodels in response to the stresses that are placed on it. Forces applied to bones that occur due to normal daily activity allow for healthy resorption and formation of bones. Periods of immobilization caused by nerve damage have a profound effect on the integrity of bone, causing an increased risk of bone fracture. The need for investigating ways of combating this secondary effect of nerve damage is imperative to the long-term health of spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve damage patients. Our lab uses two sciatic nerve damage models in mice to mimic the bone loss caused by recoverable, sciatic nerve crush (NC), and non-recoverable, sciatic neurectomy (NX), injuries. We are examining the hypothesis that recoverable damage actually causes an accelerated loss of bone mass compared to the permanently damaged nerve because of the transport of proinflammatory cytokines from the site of the nerve damage to the locally affected bone. This inflammatory response, and the hypothesized differences between the two models, will be examined via ELISA of the quadriceps to investigate the relative degree of proinflammatory cytokines local to the damage site. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that occur at nerve injury sites will allow for improved care and long-term treatment of patients. A preliminary analysis of the bone loss associate with these two nerve injury models indicate approximately a 50% greater decline in femoral mass of the NC femur compared to the NX limb, supporting the proinflammatory hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / etiology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / metabolism*
  • Tibia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / metabolism


  • Cytokines