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Fundam Appl Toxicol. 1997 Feb;35(2):205-15.

The effects of dietary boron on bone strength in rats.

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Reproductive Toxicology Group, NIEHS, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 27709, USA.


Previous studies from our laboratory found that when boric acid (BA) was administered in the diet to rats, boron levels in bone were approximately fourfold greater than serum levels. The current studies were undertaken to determine if these elevations produced adverse effects on several bone-related measures, including serum electrolyte levels, bone structure, and bone strength. Data from two studies are presented: in the first study, young adult male rats consumed a powdered diet containing 0, 3000, 4500, 6000, or 9000 ppm BA for 9 weeks. Endpoints were serum calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and chloride, as well as blood and bone boron concentrations ([B]) measured weekly during the 9-week exposure period, and at 8, 16, 24, and 32 weeks after the end of exposure. In the second study, the male and female young adult rats diet contained 0, 200, 1000, 3000, or 9000 ppm BA for 12 weeks; endpoints measured weekly were serum levels of calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, bone [B], and bone structure (humerus) and strength (tibia, femur, and lumbar vertebrae). In treated rats, calcium was reduced in the first study but not the second. Serum phosphorous was reduced in both studies; potassium was unchanged, chloride was increased by 1%, and magnesium was reduced in all BA-exposed groups in the second study, to a maximal 19% reduction. Bone [B] was consistently increased in all treated groups, to concentrations approximately fourfold those of serum. After cessation of exposure, serum and urinary boron concentrations dropped to within control values within a week. However, even 32 weeks after the end of exposure, bone [B] remained threefold greater than controls. Male tibia and femur resistance to bending was unchanged. However, vertebral strength in compression was significantly increased by 5-10% in all dose groups (200 to 9000 ppm). The pattern was substantially similar in females. Only the humerus was examined by light microscopy and was found to be unchanged at any level of BA consumption. These data show that, despite a reduction in some serum electrolyte levels, BA consumption increased vertebral resistance to crush force, without detectably altering the microscopic structure of the humerus or the resistance of femur and tibia to a bending load. This increase in compression resistance occurred at exposure levels substantially below those that were previously reported to be reproductively toxic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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