Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2012 Sep;237(9):1101-9. doi: 10.1258/ebm.2012.012043. Epub 2012 Sep 3.


Insufficient sleep over long durations of the lifespan is believed to adversely affect proper development and healthful aging, although how this might become manifested is unknown. In the present study, rats were repeatedly sleep-restricted during 72 days to permit maladaptations to evolve, thereby permitting study. Densitometric and histomorphometric analyses were performed on harvested bone. In sleep-restricted rats, bone lined by osteoid was reduced 45-fold and osteoid thickness was decreased, compared with controls. This corresponded to a decrease in osteoblast number and activity. The percentage of bone lined by osteoclasts did not differ from that of controls. Plasma concentrations of an osteoclast marker (TRACP 5b) were increased in sleep-restricted rats, indicating increased bone resorption. The low amount of new bone formation without a reduction in bone resorption is diagnostic of osteopenia. Bone mineral density was decreased in femurs from sleep-restricted rats compared with controls, indicating osteoporosis. Red marrow in sleep-restricted rats contained only 37% of the fat and more than twice the number of megakaryocytes compared with that of the control rats. These findings in marrow suggest changed plasticity and increased hematopoiesis. Plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1, a known, major mediator of osteoblast differentiation and the proliferation of progenitor cells, was decreased by 30% in sleep-restricted rats. Taken together, these findings suggest that chronically inadequate sleep affects bone metabolism and bone marrow composition in ways that have implications for development, aging, bone healing and repair, and blood cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone Development*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / physiopathology
  • Bone Marrow / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Bone Resorption
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Isoenzymes / blood
  • Megakaryocytes
  • Osteoblasts / cytology
  • Osteoclasts / cytology
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep Deprivation*
  • Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase


  • Isoenzymes
  • insulin-like growth factor-1, rat
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase