Immobilization induces a very rapid increase in osteoclast activity

Acta Astronaut. 2005 Jul;57(1):31-6. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2004.12.007.


We studied in a randomized, strictly controlled cross-over design, the effects of 6 days 6 degrees head-down tilt bed rest (HDT) in eight male healthy subjects in our metabolic ward. The study consisted of two periods (phases) of 11 days each in order to allow for the test subjects being their own controls. Both study phases were identical with respect to environmental conditions, study protocol and diet. Two days before arriving in the metabolic ward the subjects started with a diet. The diet was continued in the metabolic ward. The metabolic ward period (1l days) was divided into three parts: 4 ambulatory days, 6 days either HDT or control and 1 recovery day. Continuous urine collection started on the first day in the metabolic ward to analyze calcium excretion and bone resorption markers. On the 2nd ambulatory day in the metabolic ward and on the 5th day in HDT or control blood was drawn to analyze serum calcium, parathyroid hormone, and bone formation markers. Urinary calcium excretion was, as early as the first day in immobilization, increased (p<0.01). CTX- and NTX-excretion stayed unchanged in the first 24 h in HDT compared to the control. But already on the 2nd day of immobilization, both bone resorption markers significantly increased. We conclude from these results--pronounced rise of bone resorption markers--that already 24 h of immobilization induce a significant rise in osteoclast activity in healthy subjects. Thus, it appears possible to use short-term bed rest studies as a first step for the development of countermeasures to immobilization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bed Rest*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine
  • Bone Resorption / pathology*
  • Calcium / blood*
  • Calcium / urine*
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Collagen / urine
  • Collagen Type I
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet
  • Head-Down Tilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteoclasts / physiology*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Peptides / urine
  • Procollagen / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Weightlessness Simulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Collagen Type I
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Peptides
  • Procollagen
  • collagen type I trimeric cross-linked peptide
  • procollagen type I carboxy terminal peptide
  • Collagen
  • Calcium