Effects of short-term glucocorticoid administration on bone mineral density, biomechanics and microstructure in rats’ femur

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The effects of short-term use of oral glucocorticoid (GC) on the skeleton are not well defined. To address this gap, the influences of 7 days, 21 days of GC administration on femurs of intact rats were investigated. Forty 4-month-old female Sprague–Dawley rats were randomly divided into control group (Cont) and prednisone-treated group (Pre) and administered either distilled water or prednisone acetate at doses of 3.5 mg/kg/day for 0, 7 and 21 days, respectively. All the femurs were harvested for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, biomechanical testing and micro computed tomography scan. The whole body weight, femur bone mineral density (BMD), all three-point bending test parameters, microstructural parameters increased or improved significantly in Cont at day 21 when compared to day 0. The whole body weight, distal femur BMD, Young’s modulus, bending stiffness, density of tissue volume and trabecular thickness (Tb.Th) decreased, while structure model index and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp) increased significantly in Pre at day 21 when compared to age-matched control but had no significant differences between day 7 and day 21. Our data demonstrate that 7-day use of prednisone does not influence on rats’ femur, and 21-day use of prednisone slows in rate of whole body weight gain, decreases femur metaphysis BMD and bone stiffness which mainly due to the deteriorated bone microstructure.

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