Neuropathy-induced osteopenia in rats is not due to a reduction in weight born on the affected limb

Garth T. Whiteside, Jamie M. Boulet, Rani Sellers, Tracie E. Bunton, Katharine Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Changes in bone mineral density (BMD) are associated with clinical neuropathies. Following nerve injury in the rat, there is a loss of BMD, which may be related to nerve injury or reduced mechanical loading. The purpose of this study was to investigate if altered mechanical loading is solely responsible for the observed loss of BMD in neuropathic pain models. In addition, we sought to study the action of chronic bisphosphonate treatment on both neuropathy-induced osteopenia and pain. We therefore had two hypotheses: firstly, that nerve injuries can have variable effects on hind limb bone loss in rats which are not attributable to differences in the extent of hind limb disuse and, secondly, that bisphosphonate treatment can reverse bone loss in a rat mononeuropathy model, and this is not attributable to bisphosphonate effects on nociception or hind paw unweighting. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subject to chronic constriction injury (CCI), partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSN) or L5 + L6 spinal nerve ligation (SNL). Loss of BMD, defined as a numerically lower BMD as compared to control animals, was extreme following CCI (maximum ipsilateral/contralateral difference of 0.023 ± 0.011); BMD loss following either PSN or SNL in the rat was subtle (0.010 ± 0.002 and 0.013 ± 0.012 g/cm2, respectively), significant only at early time points and had resolved by 7 weeks post-surgery. Chronic bisphosphonate treatment significantly inhibited CCI-induced osteopenia in the rat without inhibiting the reduction in weight-bearing tactile allodynia or mechanical hyperalgesia. Loss of BMD is observed in rats in a variety of neuropathic pain models. Lack of correlation between neuropathy-induced bone loss and weight bearing demonstrates that the bone loss is not simply a function of reduced mechanical loading and suggests that altered bone-nerve signaling is involved. Furthermore, chronic bisphosphonate treatment inhibits neuropathy-induced osteopenia without affecting behavioral measurements of neuropathic pain. This indicates that osteopenia is not directly related to neuropathic pain behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-393
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Alendronate
  • CCI
  • Mechanical loading
  • Osteopenia
  • Zoledronate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuropathy-induced osteopenia in rats is not due to a reduction in weight born on the affected limb'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this