AzaThioprine alone is bone sparing and does not alter cyclosporin A-induced osteopenia in the rat

Authors

  • Haldon P. Bryer,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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    • Note: the first two investigators should be viewed as having contributed equally to the study.

  • Jonathan A. Isserow,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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    • Note: the first two investigators should be viewed as having contributed equally to the study.

  • Eamon C. Armstrong,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Gary N. Mann,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Boguslaw Rucinski,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Farrel J. Buchinsky,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • David F. Romero,

    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Solomon Epstein M.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Albert Einstein Medical Center 5401 Old York Road Philadelphia, PA 19141
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Abstract

The immunosuppressant agent cyclosporin A (CsA) induces a high turnover osteopenic state, while the effect on bone of the antimetabolite azathioprine, a drug often used in conjunction with CsA in transplant patients, is less clear. This study was therefore designed to investigate the outcome of azathioprine administration, with reference to CsA, on bone mineral metabolism using the rat model. Four groups of 10-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats (12 per group) were randomly allocated to receive by daily gavage for a 28-day period: (1) no treatment (control group); (2) azathioprine 1.5 mg/kg bw; (3) CsA 15 mg/kg bw; and (4) a combination of azathioprine and CsA, as described above. Rats were weighed and blood assayed serially for osteocalcin, ionized calcium, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2VitD), and parathyroid hormone (PTH). Tibiae were removed following sacrifice on day 28 after double calcein labeling for histomorphometric analysis. Immunosuppressant groups were compared with nontreated control. We confirmed our previous findings that CsA induces a state of high turnover bone loss which is accompanied by a diminished gain in body weight (p < 0.01) and elevated serum osteocalcin (p < 0.001) and 1,25(OH)2VitD levels (p < 0.001). Azathioprine treatment alone did not alter ionized calcium, 1,25(OH)2VitD, or PTH levels. However, there was biochemical evidence of impaired osteoblastic activity as seen by decreased osteocalcin values on days 14 and 28 (p < 0.001). Azathioprine caused no loss of bone volume nor any deviation from the norm in mineral apposition rate, bone formation rate, or longitudinal bone growth. All three treatment groups showed an increased recruitment of osteoclasts to the bone surface. In summary, this report demonstrates that azathioprine, despite appearing to suppress osteoblastic activity and encourage osteoclast recruitment, maintains bone volume in the rat and does not alter the osteopenic effects brought about by CsA administration.

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