Cancellous bone turnover in growing rats: Time-dependent changes in association between calcein label and osteoblasts


  • Russell T. Turner Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Orthopedics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota
    • 3-69 Medical Science Building Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN 55905
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Calcein was given to growing male rats to label mineralizing bone, and groups of animals were sacrificed from 6 h to 12 days later. Fluorochrome-labeled perimeter and osteoblast perimeter were determined in a growth-adjusted sampling site in the secondary spongiosa of the proximal tibial metaphysis. The best correspondence between calcein-labeled perimeter and osteoblast-lined perimeter was during the initial 24 h following administration of the label. This association decreased progressively thereafter because of (1) cessation of bone formation on fluorochrome-labeled surfaces and (2) initiation of new foci of bone formation. The time-dependent decline in osteoblast-lined trabeculae with adjacent calcein label exceeded the increase in osteoblast perimeter on nonfluorochrome-labeled trabeculae, indicating that there was a net decrease in osteoblast number. Fluorochrome-labeled perimeter and bone area showed parallel decreases with time after labeling, as a result of bone resorption. Interestingly, the decrease in cancellous bone was caused exclusively by a reduction in trabecular number. There was no change in trabecular thickness. The findings suggest that the decreased osteoblast number and progressive bone resorption resulted in complete erosion of trabeculae most distal to the growth plate. As a result of the nearly equal growth and destruction of trabeculae, there was no change in the length of the cancellous metaphysis with time. It is concluded that cancellous bone turnover in growing rats represents a maturation process that differs fundamentally from bone turnover in adults.