Progression of microstructural deterioration in load-bearing immobilization osteopenia

PLoS One. 2022 Nov 4;17(11):e0275439. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275439. eCollection 2022.


PURPOSE: Immobilization osteopenia is a major healthcare problem in clinical and social medicine. However, the mechanisms underlying this bone pathology caused by immobilization under load-bearing conditions are not yet fully understood. This study aimed to evaluate sequential changes to the three-dimensional microstructure of bone in load-bearing immobilization osteopenia using a fixed-limb rat model.

MATERIALS AND METHOD: Eight-week-old specific-pathogen-free male Wistar rats were divided into an immobilized group and a control group (n = 60 each). Hind limbs in the immobilized group were fixed using orthopedic casts with fixation periods of 1, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks. Feeding and weight-bearing were freely permitted. Length of the right femur was measured after each fixation period and bone microstructure was analyzed by micro-computed tomography. The architectural parameters of cortical and cancellous bone were analyzed statistically.

RESULTS: Femoral length was significantly shorter in the immobilized group than in the control group after 2 weeks. Total area and marrow area were significantly lower in the immobilized group than in the control group from 1 to 12 weeks. Cortical bone area, cortical thickness, and polar moment of inertia decreased significantly after 2 weeks. Some cancellous bone parameters showed osteoporotic changes at 2 weeks after immobilization and the gap with the control group widened as the fixation period extended (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The present results indicate that load-bearing immobilization triggers early deterioration of microstructure in both cortical and cancellous bone after 2 weeks.

PMID:36331919 | PMC:PMC9635731 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0275439


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