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J Bone Miner Res. 2002 Feb;17(2):284-92.

The effects of dynamic axial loading on the rat growth plate.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis 46202, USA.


Longitudinal bone growth can be suppressed by compressive loading. In this study, we applied three different magnitudes (17, 8.5, and 4N) of compressive force to growing rat ulnas 10 minutes/day for 8 days and investigated the effects on the distal growth plate biology. Further, to investigate growth rate recovery after cessation of loading, we examined rats 7 days after the loading period. Longitudinal growth of the ulna was suppressed in a dose-dependent manner by applied compressive force. In the 17N group, the longitudinal mineralization rate (LMR) at the distal growth plate was suppressed completely by loading and did not recover. However, in the 8.5N and 4N groups, LMR suppression recovered in 1 week. In the 17N group, growth plate height and hypertrophic zone height were significantly greater than control; the number of hypertrophic chondrocytes was increased; and some traumatic changes such as cracks in the growth plate were found. In addition, 17N loading suppressed cartilage mineralization and capillary invasion beneath the growth plate, although the number of chondrocytes synthesizing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was increased. Our study shows longitudinal growth suppression caused by axial loading of the ulna, which is proportional to the magnitude of load. Only the largest load (17N) caused morphological changes in the distal growth plate cartilage. There was no association found between mineralization and type X collagen localization or capillary invasion and VEGF expression.

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