The incidence of osteoporosis continues to increase with progressively aging populations. The purpose of this study was to detect the effects of glucocorticoid (GC) treatment on bone mineral density (BMD), biomechanical strength and micro-architecture in cancellous and cortical bone in ovariectomized (OVX) rabbits. Twenty adult female New Zealand white rabbits were randomly divided into three groups. The OVX-GC group (n = 8) received a bilateral ovariectomy first and then daily GC treatment (methylprednisolone sodium succinate, 1 mg/kg/day) for 4 weeks beginning 2 weeks after ovariectomy treatment. The OVX group (n = 4) received a bilateral ovariectomy without GC treatment. The sham group (n = 8) only received the sham operation. BMD was determined prior to and 6 weeks after the operation in the spine. Six weeks after the operation, the animals were sacrificed, and cancellous bone specimens were harvested from the femoral condyle and lumbar vertebrae. Cortical bone specimens were obtained from the femoral midshaft. The femoral specimens were scanned for apparent BMD. All specimens were tested mechanically and analyzed by microcompute tomography (micro-CT). In cancellous bone, GC treatment resulted in significant decreases in BMD, bone biomechanical strength and micro-architecture parameters in lumbar vertebrae. Similar trends in BMD and micro-architectural changes were also observed in the femoral condyle in the OVX-GC group compared with the sham group. However, there was no significant decline in any parameter in either lumbar vertebrae or femoral condyle in the OVX group. Similarly, no significant difference was found in any parameter in cortical bone among the three groups. Thus, the 4-week GC treatment in OVX rabbits could result in a significant bone loss in cancellous bone but not in cortical bone. This model is comparable to the osteoporosis-related changes in humans. OVX alone was not sufficient to induce osteoporosis.
Keywords: Osteoporosis; Rabbit; Ovariectomy; Glucocorticoids; Micro-CT biomechanical strength