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Abstract

Sympathectomy was carried out in 4-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats by unilateral surgical removal of the superior cervical ganglion. Sham-treated rats served as controls. All rats were injected with tetracycline hydrochloride at surgery as well as 36 hr prior to sacrifice. Rats were killed at 7, 14, or 21 days following sympathectomy. Mandibular periosteal and endosteal surfaces were analyzed by fluorochrome morphometry. Osteoclasts were identified by acid phosphatase staining, and incisor and molar root sockets were analyzed morphometrically. Following sympathectomy, periosteal and endosteal apposition as well as the rate of mineralization were significantly lower. At the same time, a significant increase in the number of osteoclasts per socket as well as in active and inactive bone resorption surfaces was also seen. All parameters, however, returned to normal values 2–3 weeks after sympathectomy. The data provide the first direct quantitative evidence that sympathetic neurons modulate bone resorption and bone remodeling in vivo.