As a result of reports indicating that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has bone anabolic properties, studies were carried out to determine whether DHEA will prevent osteopenia due to ovarian hormone deficiency. Female Sprague Dawley rats were randomized into four groups: Group 1 rats were ovariectomized; Group 2 rats were sham-operated upon; and Group 3 rats were ovariectomized and given subcutaneous injections of DHEA five times per week. Groups 1 and 2 rats were injected similar volume of solvent vehicle, and Group 4 rats were killed at the beginning of the study to serve as baseline controls. Six months after ovariectomy, Groups 1, 2 and 3 rats were bled, killed and their femurs dissected out. The following observations were made. The mean food intake of the rats over the experimental period was 20.9 gm per rat per day for the control, ovariectomized and DHEA-treated animals. Compared to age-matched controls, ovariectomy resulted in an increase in body weight, and in a decrease in: plasma calcium (P<0.005), serum calcitonin (P<0.01), femur density (P<0.005), femur calcium (P<0.01) and the ratio of cortical to periosteal area (P<0.03). None of these changes was reversed by DHEA administration. When the changes in cross-sectional areas at the midpoint of the femoral diaphysis were expressed as percentage of the baseline levels, the medullary and cortical areas were increased 32% and 11% respectively in ovariectomized animals, and 14% and 17% respectively in the sham-operated controls. The changes in cross-sectional areas induced by ovariectomy were slightly augmented by DHEA administration: medullary area (32% vs. 35%), and cortical area (11% vs. 15%). Although we have confirmed that ovariectomy induces osteopenia in rats, our findings indicate that dehydroepiandrosterone does not prevent the bone loss.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology