Risedronate reduces the risk of new vertebral fractures up to 70% within 1 year of treatment in patients with osteoporosis. Both increases in bone mass and preservation of bone architecture are thought to contribute to antifracture effects. Our objectives were to determine the effects of risedronate on trabecular bone mass and architecture and to determine the relative contributions of mass and architecture to strength in the vertebra of ovariectomized (OVX) minipigs. The minipigs were OVX at 18 months of age and were treated daily for 18 months with either vehicle or risedronate at doses of 0.5 mg/kg per day or 2.5 mg/kg per day. The three‐dimensional (3D) bone architecture of the L4 vertebral cores of Sinclair S1 minipigs was evaluated by 3D microcomputed tomography (μCT). Compared with the OVX control, the vertebral bone volume (bone volume/tissue volume [BV/TV]) was higher in both treated groups (p < 0.05). The architectural changes were more significant at the 2.5‐mg/kg dose and were more prevalent at the cranial‐caudal ends compared with the midsection. At the higher dose, the trabecular thickness (Tb.Th), trabecular number (Tb.N), and connectivity were higher, and marrow star volume (Ma.St.V) and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp) were lower (p < 0.05). The trabecular separation variation index(TSVI), a new measure to approximate structural variations, was smaller in the 2.5‐mg/kg‐treated group (p < 0.05). In this group, a significant preservation of trabeculae orthogonal to the cranial‐caudal axis was confirmed by a decrease in the degree of anisotropy (DA) and an increase in the percent Cross‐strut (%Cross‐strut; p < 0.05). Both normalized maximum load (strength) and normalized stiffness of the same vertebral cores were higher in the 2.5‐mg/kg risedronate group compared with the OVX group (p < 0.05). BV/TV alone could explain 76% of the variability of the bone strength. The combination of bone volume and architectural variables explained >90% of the strength. The study showed that risedronate preserved trabecular architecture in the vertebra of OVX minipigs, and that bone strength is tightly coupled to bone mass and architecture.
Keywords: trabecular architecture; osteoporosis; microcomputed tomography; bone strength; risedronat