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J Periodontol. 2002 Apr;73(4):383-91.

Effect of estrogen deficiency on skeletal and alveolar bone density in sheep.

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  • 1Department of Periodontics, University of Mississippi, Jackson, USA.



This study provides a longitudinal assessment of changes in alveolar and skeletal bone mineral density (BMD) in ovariectomized animals.


Following ovariectomy (OVX) (n = 6) or sham-operation (n = 6) intraoral radiographs were made at 4-month intervals and serum 17-beta-estradiol, osteocalcin, and interleukin (IL)-6, urinary deoxypyridinium, and salivary IL-6, deoxypyridinium, and osteocalcin concentrations were evaluated. Twelve months after surgery, animals were sacrificed and the mandible and radius/ulna removed. Bones were sectioned and radiographed. Mean BMD and cortical thicknesses were calculated from each region.


OVX animals had a progressive decrease in serum 17-beta-estradiol, increased serum osteocalcin and IL-6, urinary deoxypyridinium and salivary IL-6, osteocalcin and deoxypyridinium (P < 0.001), suggesting that they were becoming osteoporotic. The BMD of the radius/ulna and mandibular alveolar bone was significantly reduced in OVX animals (P < 0.05 and P < 0.001, respectively). Reduced alveolar bone BMD became evident in OVX animals 6 months after surgery and became more severe during the subsequent 6 months. Alveolar crestal height was also significantly reduced in OVX animals (P < 0.001). These biochemical and density changes preceded a significant reduction in serum 17-beta-estradiol, which occurred between 4 and 8 months following surgery.


Serial measurements of alveolar BMD predicts loss of skeletal BMD in OVX sheep. Changes in alveolar BMD precede estrogen deficiency, suggesting that early signs of reduced BMD may be detected in peri-menopausal women. The presence of biomarkers of bone metabolism within saliva and their correlation with reduced BMD suggests that saliva could be used as an adjunct screening method for assessment of skeletal bone density.

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