Olive oil effectively mitigates ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis in rats

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 4;11:10. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-10.


Background: Osteoporosis, a reduction in bone mineral density, represents the most common metabolic bone disease. Postmenopausal women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis when their production of estrogen declines. For these women, fracture is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. This study was conducted to evaluate the protective effects of olive oil supplementation against osteoporosis in ovariectomized (OVX) rats.

Methods: We studied adult female Wistar rats aged 12-14 months, divided into three groups: sham-operated control (SHAM), ovariectomized (OVX), and ovariectomized rats supplemented with extravirgin olive oil (Olive-OVX) orally for 12 weeks; 4 weeks before ovariectomy and 8 weeks after. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected. Plasma levels of calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), malondialdehyde (MDA), and nitrates were assayed. Specimens from both the tibia and the liver were processed for light microscopic examination. Histomorphometric analysis of the tibia was also performed.

Results: The OVX-rats showed a significant decrease in plasma calcium levels, and a significant increase in plasma ALP, MDA, and nitrates levels. These changes were attenuated by olive oil supplementation in the Olive-OVX rats. Light microscopic examination of the tibia of the OVX rats revealed a significant decrease in the cortical bone thickness (CBT) and the trabecular bone thickness (TBT). In addition, there was a significant increase in the osteoclast number denoting bone resorption. In the Olive-OVX rats these parameters were markedly improved as compared to the OVX group. Examination of the liver specimens revealed mononuclear cellular infiltration in the portal areas in the OVX-rats which was not detected in the Olive-OVX rats.

Conclusions: Olive oil effectively mitigated ovariectomy-induced osteoporosis in rats, and is a promising candidate for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Resorption / prevention & control*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / immunology
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / drug effects
  • Nitrates / blood
  • Olea / chemistry
  • Olive Oil
  • Osteoclasts / drug effects*
  • Osteoporosis / blood
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / immunology
  • Ovariectomy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tibia / anatomy & histology
  • Tibia / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Nitrates
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Calcium