The main goal of this study was to determine whether vertebral cancellous wall width changes with age and parathyroid hormone (PTH) treatment in rats. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to sham surgery or ovariectomy at 3 months of age. One month after surgery, ovariectomized (ovx) rats were injected subcutaneously (s.c.) 5 days/week for 6 weeks with vehicle or human parathyroid hormone [hPTH (1-34)] at a dose of 80 μg/kg body weight. Sham-operated control rats were injected s.c. with vehicle alone. All rats from this first study were 5.5 months of age at the time of killing. In the second study, control and ovx rats were subjected to the same treatments for a 10-week period beginning at one year after surgery. These animals were 17.5 months of age at the end of the study. The first lumbar vertebra was collected from each rat and processed undecalcified for measurements of cancellous wall width. At 5.5 months of age, control and ovx rats had nearly identical mean values for vertebral cancellous wall width, but this remodeling variable was significantly increased in PTH-treated ovx rats. At 17.5 months of age, wall width in control and ovx rats decreased significantly compared with wall width in the younger rats. PTH treatment of aged ovx rats induced a significant increase in vertebral cancellous wall width when compared with vehicle treatment of aged ovx rats. These results, which are consistent with findings in humans, indicate that vertebral cancellous wall width decreases with age in intact female rats and in ovx rats, but increases in ovx rats in response to PTH treatment. Furthermore, the results add to the growing body of evidence that substantial cancellous bone remodeling occurs in the vertebral bodies of rats.
Keywords: Bone histomorphometry; Aging; Ovariectomy; Parathyroid hormone; Bone remodeling; Rat