A reversal phase arrest uncoupling the bone formation and resorption contributes to the bone loss in glucocorticoid treated ovariectomised aged sheep

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Large animals as sheep are often used as models for human osteoporosis. Our aim was therefore to determine how glucocorticoid treatment of ovariectomised sheep affects the cancellous bone, determining the cellular events within the bone remodelling process that contributes to their bone loss. Twenty female sheep were assigned for two groups; an untreated control group and an ovariectomised group treated with glucocorticoids (0.6mg/kg/day, 5 times weekly) for 7months. At 7months the glucocorticoid-treated ovariectomised sheep showed a significant change in the bone microstructure revealed by a decreased trabecular bone volume and thickness compared to the control sheep. The treatment led to a temporary elevation of the bone resorption marker CTX (c-terminal collagen telopeptide), while the bone formation marker osteocalcin remained suppressed all 7months. Histomorphometrically, the treated sheep had a complete absence of osteoid surfaces, and a 5-fold increase in the extent of eroded/reversal surfaces after 7months. Most of these reversal surfaces were actually arrested reversal surfaces, defined as reversal surfaces without the presence of neighbouring osteoid surfaces or osteoclasts, which is classically observed next to active reversal surfaces. As in humans, these arrested reversal surfaces had compared to active reversal surfaces a reduced canopy coverage, a significantly decreased cell density, and a decreased immunoreactivity for the osteoblastic markers osterix, runx2 and smooth muscle actin in the mononuclear reversal cells colonising the surfaces. In conclusion, glucocorticoid treatment of ovariectomised sheep induced a significant bone loss, caused by an arrest of the reversal phase, resulting in an uncoupling of the bone formation and resorption during the reversal phase, as recently demonstrated in postmenopausal women with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. This supports the relevance of the sheep model to the pathophysiology of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, making it a relevant preclinical model for orthopaedic implant and biomaterial research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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