Bone quality and strength are greater in growing male rats fed fructose compared with glucose

Nutr Res. 2013 Dec;33(12):1063-71. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.08.006. Epub 2013 Oct 9.


Optimization of peak bone mass during adolescence is important for osteoporosis prevention. Studies in rodents and humans have demonstrated the harmful effects of sugar intake on bone health. With the high levels of sucrose in the diets of adolescents, it is necessary to understand the influence of glucose and fructose on growing bones. This study compared the effects of dietary glucose and fructose on bone formation, microarchitecture, and strength. Because of the different metabolic effects of glucose and fructose, we hypothesized that their individual effects on bone would be different. Eighteen male Sprague-Dawley rats (age, 60 days) were randomly assigned to high-fructose (n = 9; 40% fructose, 10% glucose) or high-glucose diet (n = 9; 50% glucose) for 12 weeks. Bone measurements included histology and histomorphometry of trabecular bone in the distal femur and a 3-point bending test of the whole tibia. Whole liver mass and postprandial serum glucose, insulin, and triglycerides were used to assess differences in energy metabolism between the diets. There were no differences in food intake, body weight, or visceral adiposity between groups, but fructose consumption led to heavier livers (P = .001) and elevated serum triglycerides (P = .00). The distal femurs of fructose-fed rats had greater bone volume (bone volume/total volume; P = .03), lower bone surface (bone surface/bone volume; P = .02), and thicker trabeculae (trabecular thickness; P = .01). The tibias of the fructose-fed rats also withstood a greater maximum flexure load (P = .032). These results indicate that consumption of the high-fructose diet resulted in stronger bones with enhanced microarchitecture than consumption of the high-glucose diet.

Keywords: Adiposity; BFR; BMC; BMD; BS; BV; Fructose; Glucose; HFS; LFCC; MAR; MS; N.Ob; N.Oc; Ob.S; Osteogenesis; Rats; TV; Tb.N; Tb.S; Tb.Th; bone formation rate; bone mineral content; bone mineral density; bone surface; bone volume; high-fat sucrose; low-fat complex carbohydrate diet; mineral acquisition rate; mineralizing surface; number of osteoblasts; number of osteoclasts; osteoblast surface; total volume; trabecular number; trabecular surface; trabecular thickness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Femur / drug effects
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Fructose / pharmacology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects*
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tibia / drug effects
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Triglycerides
  • Fructose
  • Glucose