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Keywords:

  • Rat Model;
  • Tibia;
  • Histomorphometry;
  • Gene Expression

Background

Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with increased risk of osteoporosis while light-to-moderate alcohol intake correlates with reduced osteoporosis risk. Addition of alcohol to a liquid diet is often used to model chronic alcohol abuse. Methods to model intermittent drinking (including binge drinking and light-to-moderate consumption) include (i) intragastric administration of alcohol by oral gavage or (ii) intraperitoneal (ip) administration of alcohol by injection. However, it is unclear whether the latter 2 methods produce comparable results. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the skeletal response to alcohol delivered daily by oral gavage or ip injection.

Methods

Ethanol (EtOH) or vehicle was administered to 4-month-old female Sprague–Dawley rats once daily at 1.2 g/kg body weight for 7 days. Following necropsy, bone formation and bone architecture were evaluated in tibial diaphysis (cortical bone) and proximal tibial metaphysis (cancellous bone) by histomorphometry. mRNA was measured for bone matrix proteins in distal femur metaphysis.

Results

Administration of alcohol by gavage had no significant effect on body weight gain or bone measurements. In contrast, administration of the same dose of alcohol by ip injection resulted in reduced body weight, total suppression of periosteal bone formation in tibial diaphysis, decreased cancellous bone formation in proximal tibial metaphysis, and decreased mRNA levels for bone matrix proteins in distal femur.

Conclusions

Our findings raise concerns regarding the use of ip injection of EtOH in rodents as a method for modeling the skeletal effects of intermittent exposure to alcohol in humans. This concern is based on a failure of the ip route to replicate the oral route of alcohol administration.