Osteoporosis is a common occurrence in aging men. There is currently no appropriate animal model for studying age-related bone loss in men. To determine whether male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats experience bone loss with aging and whether this rodent model is appropriate for studying age-related bone loss in men, SD rats aged 1-27 months were examined at the L-4 vertebra, the left femoral neck, and the left proximal tibia using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) densitometry. In the L-4 vertebra of the male SD rats, cortical bone mineral content (BMC), cortical bone mineral density (BMD), and cortical bone thickness (Ct.Th) increased to a maximum at about 4 months of age and then plateaued. Vertebral cortical BMC began to decrease after about 13 months and vertebral Ct.Th began to decrease after about 9 months. By 27 months of age, vertebral cortical BMC decreased by 26.1% (p < 0.0001) and vertebral Ct.Th decreased by 31% (p < 0.0001). Vertebral cancellous BMC and vertebral cancellous BMD increased to a maximum at about 3 months of age and then declined progressively with aging after a short plateau. From 3 to 27 months of age, vertebral cancellous BMC and vertebral cancellous BMD had decreased linearly by 35.4% (p < 0.0001) and 49.4% (p < 0.0001), respectively. Both vertebral periosteal and vertebral endocortical perimeters of the L-4 vertebra of the rats increased with aging. From 9 to 27 months of age, the percent increase of vertebral endocortical perimeter (19.8%, p < 0.0001) was higher than that of vertebral periosteal perimeter (7.4%, p < 0.0001). This process was associated with a decrease with aging in vertebral Ct.Th. In addition, cancellous bone in the femoral neck and the proximal tibia began to be lost at 9 months of age and, by 27 months of age, cancellous BMC and cancellous BMD decreased by 59.7% (p < 0.0001) and 58.4% (p < 0.0001), respectively, in the femoral neck and by 72.2% (p < 0.0001) and 71.4% (p < 0.0001), respectively, in the proximal tibia. To gain further insight into the effects of aging on cancellous bone in the L-4 vertebra, histomorphometry was done on the L-4 vertebral body of animals aged 3, 6, 9, 18, and 24 months after pQCT densitometry. From 3 months of age and thereafter, cancellous bone volume (BV/TV) decreased progressively and, by 24 months, there was a decrease of 35.7% (p < 0.0001). In the L-4 vertebra, single- and double-labeled surfaces, mineral apposition rate (MAR), and bone formation rate (BFR/BS) decreased with aging. In conclusion, age-related bone loss in male SD rats started mostly from 9 months of age when bone growth had been completed. Aging male SD rats experience bone loss comparable to that seen in men. Thus, male SD rats represent an appropriate animal model of age-related bone loss in men. We recommend using male SD rats that are 9 months old as the starting age for age-related bone loss. We also suggest using the L-4 vertebra and femoral neck as the clinically relevant bone sites for determining the cause of the loss of bone, and how and whether therapeutic agents could modulate age-related bone loss in men.
- Bone loss
- Male animal model
- Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism