We recently demonstrated that suppression of bone remodeling allows microdamage to accumulate, leading to reduced bone toughness in the rib cortex of dogs. This study evaluates the effects of reduced bone turnover produced by bisphosphonates on microdamage accumulation and biomechanical properties at clinically relevant skeletal sites in the same dogs. Thirty-six female beagles, 1–2 years old, were divided into three groups. The control group was treated daily for 12 months with saline vehicle (CNT). The remaining two groups were treated daily with risedronate at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg per day (RIS), or alendronate at 1.0 mg/kg per day (ALN) orally. The doses of these bisphosphonates were six times the clinical doses approved for treatment of osteoporosis in humans. After killing, the L-1 vertebra was scanned by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and the L-2 vertebra and right ilium were assigned to histomorphometry. The L-3 vertebra, left ilium, Th-2 spinous process, and right femoral neck were used for microdamage analysis. The L-4 vertebra and Th-1 spinous process were mechanically tested to failure in compression and shear, respectively. One year treatment with risedronate or alendronate significantly suppressed trabecular remodeling in vertebrae (RIS 90%, ALN 95%) and ilium (RIS 76%, ALN 90%) without impairment of mineralization, and significantly increased microdamage accumulation in all skeletal sites measured. Trabecular bone volume and vertebral strength increased significantly following 12 month treatment. However, normalized toughness of the L-4 vertebra was reduced by 21% in both RIS (p = 0.06) and ALN (p = 0.05) groups. When the two bisphosphonate groups were pooled in a post hoc fashion for analysis, this reduction in toughness reached statistical significance (p = 0.02). This study demonstrates that suppression of trabecular bone turnover by high doses of bisphosphonates is associated with increased vertebral strength, even though there is significant microdamage accumulation and a reduction in the intrinsic energy absorption capacity of trabecular bone.
Keywords: Microdamage; Bone remodeling; Bisphosphonate;Biomechanics; Histomorphometry; Dog