The ovariectomized, mature rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis: an assessment of the bone sparing effects of curcumin

Phytomedicine. 2008 Dec;15(12):1069-78. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Aug 6.


Identification of natural health products that might benefit skeletal health could reduce the negative impact of osteoporotic bone fractures upon society. The objectives of this study were to evaluate an animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis and to search for evidence that curcumin reduces bone mineral losses in a dose-dependent manner when endogenous estrogen levels are reduced. Bone mineral density was measured at the spine, femur and whole body before and at 2, 4 and 6 months after ovariectomy in each of 40 mature rats. Serum osteocalcin and C-telopeptide were measured as indicators of bone formation and resorption rates. Femoral compressive strength was measured at 6 months. Ovariectomy alone resulted in loss of mineral from the spine (p<0.005) and an increase in osteocalcin levels (p<0.05). At the same time, there was an increase in energy to fracture (p<0.01) due to an increased bone size. When ovariectomized animals were given etidronate there was no loss of mineral from the spine, the size of the femur increased (p<0.005), C-telopeptide levels were reduced (p<0.001) and femoral compressive strength increased (p<0.025). Administration of curcumin to ovariectomized animals resulted in changes that were intermediate between those produced by etidronate and by ovariectomy alone. The increase in femur size produced by the highest dose of curcumin was statistically significant (p< 0.01) and curcumin administration resulted in a significant, dose dependent, increase in energy to fracture. Curcumin produces beneficial changes in bone turnover and increases in bone strength using the ovariectomized mature rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Compressive Strength
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Estrogens / deficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / drug therapy*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Estrogens
  • Curcumin