Estimation of an early meaningful time point of bone parameter changes in application to an osteoporotic rat model with in vivo microcomputed tomography measurements

Lab Anim. 2012 Jul;46(3):237-44. doi: 10.1258/la.2012.011154. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


The commonly used preclinical animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis is the mature ovariectomized rat, whereby cessation of ovarian oestrogen production consequently results in bone volume reduction. The study aim was to precisely define the time course of structural changes resulting from ovariectomy and thereby reduce the time animals have to be treated to judge the effects of osteoporosis treatment. For this purpose, we assessed architectural changes by microcomputed tomography (μCT) during 10 weeks following ovariectomy or sham surgery at two-week intervals. Moreover, the trabecular microarchitecture of the lumbar vertebrae was assessed after necropsy. Besides this, serum biomarkers of bone turnover were determined. These data were in a new approach additionally correlated to femur mRNA expression profiles. We selected the osteoblast marker genes osteocalcin and type I collagen as well as the two osteoclast marker genes cathepsin k and tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5. The gene expression analysis suggested an activation of osteoblasts as well as octeoclasts. The significantly induced serum levels of osteocalcin and collagen degradation fragments also revealed this higher rate of bone turnover. Our results indicate that as soon as four weeks after ovariectomy the bone volume fraction exhibited a decline of 30% and 50% of the connectivity density. In addition, significant decreases of trabecular number and thickness as well as of the bone volume fraction were only observed in vertebrae of ovariectomized animals. Interestingly, changes of trabecular morphology were also found in the sham animals as a consequence of senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bone Density
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Femur / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism
  • Osteoclasts / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / pathology*
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tibia / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia / pathology*
  • Tibia / physiopathology
  • X-Ray Microtomography


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Messenger