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Open Access Research article

Effect of combined treatment with alendronate and calcitriol on femoral neck strength in osteopenic rats

Yoshinari Nakamura1*, Masatoshi Naito1, Kazuo Hayashi2, Abbas Fotovati2 and Samah Abu-Ali2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukuoka University School of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan

2 Rheumatology and Arthritis Center Fukuoka Wajiro Hospital 2-2-75, Wajirooka, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, Japan

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Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 2008, 3:51  doi:10.1186/1749-799X-3-51

Published: 17 December 2008

Abstract

Background

Hip fracture is associated with pronounced morbidity and excess mortality in elderly women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Many drugs have been developed to treat osteoporosis and to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures. We investigated the effects of combined alendronate and vitamin D3 treatment on bone mass and fracture load at the femoral neck in ovariectomized (OVX) rats, and evaluated the relationship between bone mass parameters and femoral neck strength.

Methods

Thirty 12-week-old female rats underwent either a sham-operation (n = 6) or OVX (n = 24). Twenty weeks later, OVX rats were further divided into four groups and received daily doses of either saline alone, 0.1 mg/kg alendronate, 0.1 μg/kg calcitriol, or a combination of both two drugs by continuous infusion via Alzet mini-osmotic pumps. The sham-control group received saline alone. After 12 weeks of treatment, femoral necks were examined using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) densitometry and mechanical testing.

Results

Saline-treated OVX rats showed significant decreases in total bone mineral content (BMC) (by 28.1%), total bone mineral density (BMD) (by 9.5%), cortical BMC (by 26.3%), cancellous BMC (by 66.3%), cancellous BMD (by 29.0%) and total cross-sectional bone area (by 30.4%) compared with the sham-control group. The combined alendronate and calcitriol treatments improved bone loss owing to estrogen deficiency. On mechanical testing, although OVX significantly reduced bone strength of the femoral neck (by 29.3%) compared with the sham-control group, only the combined treatment significantly improved the fracture load at the femoral neck in OVX rats to the level of the sham-controls. The correlation of total BMC to fracture load was significant, but that of total BMD was not.

Conclusion

Our results showed that the combined treatment with alendronate and calcitriol significantly improved bone fragility of the femoral neck in OVX osteopenic rats.