To understand the structural changes accompanying estrogen deficiency-induced bone loss, we examined the temporal changes in cancellous bone structure in an animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Matured rats were subjected to bilateral ovariectomy, and groups of eight animals were sacrificed at 5-day intervals. Histomorphometric and trabecular strut analyses of the excised proximal tibia, and bone mineral density measurement of the distal femur, were used to investigate cancellous bone loss as a result of estrogen deficiency. There was an immediate increase in bone turnover after ovariectomy, as evidenced by rapid increases in osteoclast surface (400%) and bone formation rate (270%). The resultant time-dependent decrease in cancellous bone volume was highly related to a decrease in trabecular plate number and connectivity parameters, but was not related to the thickness of the remaining cancellous plates. Our results suggest that cancellous bone loss due to estrogen deficiency is the result of decreased connectivity, likely due to osteoclast perforation of trabecular plates, followed by complete removal of the plate without prior generalized thinning.
Keywords: Ovariectomy; Histomorphometry; Osteopenia; Cancellous bone; Strut analysis