Impact of heavy alcohol consumption on cortical bone mechanical properties in male rhesus macaques

Bone. 2024 Apr:181:117041. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2024.117041. Epub 2024 Feb 5.


Chronic heavy alcohol consumption may influence the skeleton by suppressing intracortical bone remodeling which may impact the quality of bone and its mechanical properties. However, this aspect has not been thoroughly assessed in either humans or animal models whose cortical bone microstructure resembles the microstructure of human cortical bone. The current study is the first to investigate the effects of chronic heavy alcohol consumption on various mechanical properties of bone in a non-human primate model with intracortical remodeling. Male rhesus macaques (5.3 years old at the initiation of treatment) were induced to drink alcohol and then given the choice to voluntarily self-administer water or ethanol (4 % w/v) for approximately 14 months, followed by three abstinence phases (lasting 34, 41, and 39-46 days) with approximately 3 months of ethanol access in between. During the initial 14 months of open-access, monkeys in the alcohol group consumed an average of 2.9 ± 0.8 g/kg/d ethanol (mean ± SD) resulting in a blood ethanol concentration of 89 ± 47 mg/dl in longitudinal samples taken at 7 h after the daily sessions began. To understand the impact of alcohol consumption on material properties, various mechanical tests were conducted on the distal tibia diaphysis of 2-5 monkeys per test group, including dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) testing, nano-indentation, microhardness testing, compression testing, and fracture resistance curve (R-curve) testing. Additionally, compositional analyses were performed using Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Significant differences in microhardness, compressive stress-strain response, and composition were not observed with alcohol consumption, and only minor differences were detected in hardness and elastic modulus of the matrix and osteons from nanoindentation. Furthermore, the R-curves of both groups overlapped, with similar crack initiation toughness, despite a significant decrease in crack growth toughness (p = 0.032) with alcohol consumption. However, storage modulus (p = 0.029) and loss factor (p = 0.015) from DMA testing were significantly increased in the alcohol group compared to the control group, while loss modulus remained unchanged. These results indicate that heavy alcohol consumption may have only a minor influence on the material properties and the composition of cortical bone in young adult male rhesus macaques.

Keywords: Alcohol; Bone; Crack resistance curve behavior; Deformation and fracture toughness; Mechanical characterization; Microstructure; Non-human primate; Strength.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones*
  • Cortical Bone*
  • Ethanol
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male


  • Ethanol