Introduction: Excessive alcohol consumption is known to be a cause of secondary osteoporosis whereas physical activity is recommended in prevention of osteoporosis. This study was designed to analyze the effects of physical exercise on bone parameters in chronic alcohol-fed rats.
Methods: Forty-eight male Wistar rats were divided in four groups: Control (C), Alcohol (A), Exercise (E) and Alcohol+Exercise (AE). A and AE groups drank a solution composed of ethanol and water (35% volume/volume for 17 weeks). E and AE groups were submitted to treadmill training for 14 weeks (60 min/day, 5 times/week). Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed by DXA, the trabecular and cortical microarchitectural parameters by microCT and serum osteocalcin, NTx and leptin concentrations by ELISA assays. Bone mechanical parameters were evaluated through mechanical testing. Osteocyte apoptosis was analyzed with cleaved caspase-3 immunostaining.
Results: Alcohol-fed rats had significantly lower body weight (-28%), fat (-46%) and lean mass (-25%) compared to controls. BMD (-8%), trabecular (-12%) and cortical thickness (-27%) were significantly lower with alcohol whereas porosity (+38%) and pore number (+42%) were higher. Exercise combined with alcohol prevented lower Tb.Th (+20%), Ct.Th (+30%), stress (+26%) and higher Ct.Po (-24%) and osteocyte apoptosis (-91%) compared to A. However, WB BMD (-4%) and femur BMD were still lower in AE versus C.
Conclusion: Regular physical activity has beneficial effects on some microarchitectural parameters in alcohol-fed rats. However, regular treadmill exercise does not compensate for the effects of heavy chronic alcohol consumption on whole body bone density.
Keywords: Bone density; Microarchitecture; Osteocyte; Physical activity.
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