Restoration of bone mass in the severely osteopenic senescent rat

Jean D. Sibonga, Minzhi Zhang, Erik L. Ritman, Russell T. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Studies in humans and rats suggest that age impairs the ability to form bone. This impairment may be due to a depletion or deficit in osteoprogenitor stem cells. Such a deficit would be expected to reduce the ability of the skeleton to respond to therapy designed to restore lost bone. This study evaluated whether severely osteopenic senescent rats are capable of responding to a potent anabolic factor in bene, prostaglandin E2 (PGE). Growing female Sprague Dawley rats were ovariectomized at 3 months and aged until the start of treatment at 23 months. Rats were treated daily with PGE (3 mg/kg sc) or vehicle for 56 days. Tibiae were harvested for bone histomorphometry and femora were obtained for mRNA analysis of bene matrix proteins. The cancellous bone area was fivefold greater in PGE-treated rats than in vehicle-treated controls and not different from age-matched ovary- intact rats. PGE approximately doubled the bone-forming surface and the mineral apposition rate and increased the bone formation rate fourfold. The increased cancellous bone area in PGE-treated rats was primarily due to an increase in osteoblasts over osteoclasts. One hundred percent of the endocortical surface and 72 ± 9% of the periosteal surface of cortical bone was undergoing mineralization in PGE-treated rats, whereas no mineralization was evident in vehicle-treated rats. An architectural analysis of cancellous bone indicates that trabecular number and thickness were increased and separation decreased in the treated rats. Imaging by microcomputed tomography further revealed that with PGE treatment, trabeculae in the medial plane of the proximal tibial metaphysis were more robust and continuous with the endocortical surface. PGE also significantly induced message levels for the prepro-α (I) subunit of type I collagen (collagen), osteonectin, and osteocalcin. In summary, bone mass can be restored to severely osteopenic senescent rats, suggesting that aging does not necessarily diminish the capacity of the skeleton to form bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B71-B78
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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