Background: Ovariectomy (OVX) and immobilization (IMM) in rats are useful models of osteopenia, replicating some aspects of osteoporosis in humans. The purpose of this study was to compare changes in cancellous bone after OVX and/or IMM.
Methods: Differences in cancellous bone were determined at 6 and 12 weeks after OVX or IMM. Comparisons were also made when rats were ovariectomized or immobilized for 6 weeks and then immobilized (OVX/IMM) and ovariectomized (IMM/OVX), respectively, for 6 more weeks. The femurs were used to determine bone mineral content (BMC) using single photon absorptiometry (SPA) and for scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Tibias were collected for microradiography, image analysis, and histomorphometry of metaphyseal cancellous bone.
Results: Six and 12 weeks after OVX, there was less cancellous bone mass, compared with controls, as indicated by SPA, SEM, microradiography, image analyses, and histomorphometry. Bone was lost primarily from the central metaphyseal regions in the OVX animals, whereas the loss occurred throughout the metaphyses in the IMM animals. There were more rodlike bone spicules and fewer platelike trabeculae in the OVX and IMM groups compared with controls. Differences in the structural aspects of the cancellous bone, including differences in the types of bone struts and marrow star volumes, indicated less trabecular connectivity and greater trabecular separation in the OVX and IMM animals, compared with controls. Endochondral growth indices in the IMM groups tended to be less, whereas the OVX groups tended to be greater than controls. Cancellous bone formation rates were generally greater in the OVX groups but less in the IMM groups compared with controls. Osteoclastic resorption surfaces were substantially elevated in the IMM and OVX groups, particularly the IMM groups. Changes reflecting OVX and IMM, independently, were apparent in the OVX/IMM and IMM/OVX groups and indices of osteopenia were different from controls, including less bone mass, trabecular connectivity, and greater trabecular separation, bone turnover rates, and osteoclastic surface.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate differences in the osteopenic changes that occur in cancellous bone following OVX or IMM. The changes were generally more dramatic in the IMM than in the OVX animals. When OVX and IMM were applied in combination, the osteopenic changes are particularly severe, emphasizing the importance of mechanical usage even with a deficiency of gonadal hormones.