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Calcif Tissue Int. 1990 Jul;47(1):18-23.

Regional patterns of bone loss and altered bone remodeling in response to calcium deprivation in laboratory rabbits.

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Orthopedic Research Laboratory, West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, Morgantown 26506.


This study explores the effects of a calcium-deficient diet on patterns of bone remodeling, and examines regional differences in the amount of bone lost. Skeletally mature female rabbits (n = 6) were fed a calcium-deficient diet (0.10% Ca2+ and 0.50% P) for 14 weeks. A separate group of rabbits (n = 4) were fed a maintenance diet (1.2% Ca2+ and 0.45% P). Bone mineral content, serum calcium, and serum phosphorus were measured each week during the experimental period. Following sacrifice, the L3 vertebra, femoral head, proximal tibial metaphysis, and tibial midshaft were analyzed histomorphometrically. Rabbits had 20% less vertebral bone after only 14 weeks of a calcium-deficient diet. As in human postmenopausal osteoporosis, bone loss in calcium-deficient rabbits occurs in the trabecular bone of the lumbar spine before that in the trabecular bone of the lower extremity. Calcium-deficient diets alone do not lead to increased osteoid volume or thickness. Because bone loss is relatively rapid and because the pattern of loss is similar in some respects to that found in humans, adult rabbits may provide an attractive model of calcium deficiency osteoporosis in a skeletally mature mammal in which remodeling is predominant over modeling.

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