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Administration of cyclosporine A to male and female rats accelerates bone remodeling and causes bone loss, among other side-effects. The newer immunosuppressant drugs, FK506 and CsG, have been synthesized to counteract the toxic effects of CsA, yet maintain clinical efficacy. We investigated the in vivo effects of long-term administration of these drugs on bone mineral metabolism in the rat. Five groups of Sprague- Dawley rats, 15 per group, were allocated to receive by daily gavage for a period of 28 days: (1) Cs-vehicle; (2) CsA 15 mg/kg b.w.; (3) CsG 15 mg/kg b.w.; (4) FK506 vehicle; (5) FK506 5 mg/kg b.w. Blood was sampled on days 0, 14, and 28 for measurement of ionized calcium (Ca2+), parathyroid hormone (PTH), l,25-(OH)2-vitamin D, and bone gla protein (BGP). Tibiae were removed on day 28 after double calcein labeling for histomorphometric analysis. Immunosuppressant groups were compared with the respective vehicle groups. Neither CsA or CsG affected the levels of Ca2+ or PTH, whereas by day 28 FK506 caused a decrease in Ca2+ and a corresponding rise in PTH (P<0.05). The 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D and BGP levels in both the CsA and CsG groups were increased on days 14 and 28 (P<0.05), while FK506 had no effect on these serum levels. Tibial bone histomorphometry revealed that all 3 immunosuppressants increased measures of bone formation and bone resorption, accompanied by a significant reduction in percent trabecular area, most marked with FK506. This report demonstrates that all three immunosuppressants have adverse effects on bone—most deleterious with FK506.