Dramatic increase in cortical thickness induced by femoral marrow ablation followed by a 3-month treatment with PTH in rats

Qing Zhang, Jodi Carlson, Hua Zhu Ke, Jiliang Li, Michael Kim, Kieran Murphy, Nozer Mehta, James Gilligan, Agnès Vignery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We previously reported that following mechanical ablation of the marrow from the midshaft of rat femurs, there is a rapid and abundant but transient growth of bone, and this growth is enhanced and maintained over a 3-week period by the bone anabolic hormone parathyroid hormone (PTH). Here, we asked whether further treatment with PTH or bisphosphonates can extend the half-life of the new bone formed in lieu of marrow. We subjected the left femur of rats to mechanical marrow ablation and treated the animals 5 days a week with PTH for 3 weeks (or with vehicle as a control) to replace the marrow by bone. Some rats were euthanized and used as positive controls or treated with vehicle, PTH, or the bisphosphonate alendronate for a further 9 weeks. We subjected both femurs from each rat to soft X-ray, peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), micro-computed tomography (μCT), dynamic histomorphometry analysis, and biomechanical testing. We also determined the concentrations of serum osteocalcin to confirm the efficacy of PTH. Treatment with PTH for 3 months dramatically enhanced endosteal and periosteal bone formation, leading to a 30% increase in cortical thickness. In contrast, alendronate protected the bone that had formed in the femoral marrow cavity after marrow ablation and 3 weeks of treatment with PTH but failed to promote endosteal bone growth or to improve the biomechanical properties of ablated femurs. We further asked whether calcium-phosphate cements could potentiate the formation of bone after marrow ablation. Marrow cavities from ablated femurs were filled with one of two calcium-phosphate cements, and rats were treated with PTH or PBS for 84 days. Both cements helped to protect the new bone formed after ablation. To some extent, they promoted the formation of bone after ablation, even in the absence of any anabolic hormone. Our data therefore expand the role of PTH in bone engineering and open new avenues of investigation to the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Local bone marrow aspiration in conjunction with an anabolic agent, a bisphosphonate, or a calcium-phosphate cement might provide a new platform for rapid preferential site-directed bone growth in areas of high bone loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1350-1359
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Bisphosphonate
  • Bone regeneration
  • Calcium-phosphate Cement
  • Marrow ablation
  • PTH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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