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Calcif Tissue Int. 2010 May;86(5):389-96. doi: 10.1007/s00223-010-9348-1. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Mechanical stimulation and intermittent parathyroid hormone treatment induce disproportional osteogenic, geometric, and biomechanical effects in growing mouse bone.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 635 Barnhill Dr., MS 5035, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Mechanical loading and intermittent parathyroid (iPTH) treatment are both osteoanabolic stimuli and are regulated by partially overlapping cellular signaling pathways. iPTH has been shown clinically to be effective in increasing bone mass and reducing fracture risk. Likewise, mechanical stimulation can significantly enhance bone apposition and prevent bone loss, but its clinical effects on fracture susceptibility are less certain. Many of the osteogenic effects of iPTH are localized to biomechanically suboptimal bone surfaces, whereas mechanical loading directs new bone formation to high-stress areas and not to strain-neutral areas. These differences in localization in new tissue, resulting from load-induced versus iPTH-induced bone accumulation, should affect the relation between bone mass and bone strength, or "tissue economy." We investigated the changes in bone mass and strength induced by 6 weeks of mechanical loading and compared them to changes induced by 6 weeks of iPTH treatment. Loading and iPTH both increased ulnar bone accrual, as measured by bone mineral density and content, and fluorochrome-derived bone formation. iPTH induced a significantly greater increase in bone mass than loading, but ulnar bone strength was increased approximately the same amount by both treatments. Mechanical loading during growth can spatially optimize new bone formation to improve structural integrity with a minimal increase in mass, thereby increasing tissue economy, i.e., the amount of strength returned per unit bone mass added. Furthermore, exercise studies in which only small changes in bone mass are detected might be more beneficial to bone health and fracture resistance than has commonly been presumed.

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