Background: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at increase risk for bone loss and fractures. Therefore, in the present study, we examined the effect of experimental IBD on bone health.
Methods: We used a murine model of colitis, Helicobacter hepaticus-infected interleukin-10-deficient animals. Molecular and histological properties of bone and intestine were examined to identify the immunopathological consequences of colitis in male and female mice.
Results: At 6 weeks postinfection, we observed significant trabecular bone loss in male mice but surprisingly not in female mice. This was true for both distal femur and vertebral locations. In addition, H. hepaticus infection suppressed osteoblast markers only in male mice. Consistent with effects on bone health, male mice with H. hepaticus infection had more severe colitis as determined by histology and elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines in the colon. Although H. hepaticus levels in the stool appeared similar in male and female mice 1 week after infection, by 6 weeks, H. hepaticus levels were greater in male mice, indicating that H. hepaticus survival and virulence within the gastrointestinal tract could be gender dependent.
Conclusion: In summary, H. hepaticus-induced colitis severity and associated bone loss is gender regulated, possibly as a result of gender-specific effects on H. hepaticus colonization in the mouse gastrointestinal tract and the consequent immunopathological responses.