• osteoporosis;
  • low turnover;
  • hypothalamic-pituitary disconnection (HPD);
  • sheep;
  • large animal model


Hypothalamo-pituitary disconnection (HPD) leads to low bone turnover and osteoporosis in sheep. To determine the sustainability of bone loss and its biomechanical relevance, we studied HPD-sheep 24 months after surgery (HPD + OVX-24) in comparison to untreated control (Control), ovariectomized sheep (OVX), and sheep 12 months after HPD (HPD + OVX-12). We performed histomorphometric, HR-pQCT, and qBEI analyses, as well as biomechanical testing of all ewes studied. Twenty-four months after HPD, histomorphometric analyses of the iliac crest showed a significant reduction of BV/TV by 60% in comparison to Control. Cortical thickness of the femora measured by HR-pQCT did not change between 12 and 24 months after HPD but remained decreased by 30%. These structural changes were caused by a persisting depression of osteoblast and osteoclast cellular activity. Biomechanical testing of the femora showed a significant reduction of bending strength, whereas calcium content and distribution was found to be unchanged. In conclusion, HPD surgery leads to a persisting low turnover status with negative turnover balance in sheep followed by dramatic cortical and trabecular bone loss with consequent biomechanical impairment. © 2013 Orthopaedic Research Society Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 31:1067–1074, 2013