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J Bone Miner Res. 2009 Sep;24(9):1618-27. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.090316.

Type 1 diabetes in young rats leads to progressive trabecular bone loss, cessation of cortical bone growth, and diminished whole bone strength and fatigue life.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


People with diabetes have increased risk of fracture disproportionate to BMD, suggesting reduced material strength (quality). We quantified the skeletal effects of type 1 diabetes in the rat. Fischer 344 and Sprague-Dawley rats (12 wk of age) were injected with either vehicle (Control) or streptozotocin (Diabetic). Forelimbs were scanned at 0, 4, 8, and 12 wk using pQCT. Rats were killed after 12 wk. We observed progressive osteopenia in diabetic rats. Trabecular osteopenia was caused by bone loss: volumetric BMD decreased progressively with time in diabetic rats but was constant in controls. Cortical osteopenia was caused by premature arrest of cortical expansion: cortical area did not increase after 4-8 wk in diabetic rats but continued to increase in controls. Postmortem muCT showed a 60% reduction in proximal tibial trabecular BV/TV in diabetic versus control rats, whereas moments of inertia of the ulnar and femoral diaphysis were reduced approximately 30%. Monotonic bending tests indicated that ulna and femora from diabetic animals were approximately 25% less stiff and strong versus controls. Estimates of material properties indicated no changes in elastic modulus or ultimate stress but modest ( approximately 10%) declines in yield stress for diabetic bone. These changes were associated with a approximately 50% increase in the nonenzymatic collagen cross-link pentosidine. Last, cyclic testing showed diminished fatigue life in diabetic bones at the structural (force) level but not at the material (stress) level. In summary, type 1 diabetes, left untreated, causes trabecular bone loss and a reduction in diaphyseal growth. Diabetic bone has greatly increased nonenzymatic collagen cross-links but only modestly reduced material properties. The loss of whole bone strength under both monotonic and fatigue loading is attributed mainly to reduced bone size.

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