Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Adult and Aged Bone: A Histomorphometric Study of the Rat Animal Model


  • H. Wayne Sampson

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Human Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University, Health Science Center, College Station, Texas.
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Department of Human Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, Texas A M University, College Station, Teras 77843-1114.


The adult and aged skeleton exist in a time when osteoporosis and age-related bone loss is at a maximum, and it is modified by lifestyle factors such as alcohol. To determine the effect of life-long alcohol consumption on the adult and aged rat model, 4-week-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three diet groups. Alcohol-treated animals were fed a modified Lieber-DeCarli diet ad libitum containing 35% ethanol-derived calories, whereas the pair-fed animals (weight-matched to ethanol rats) received an isocaloric liquid diet in which maltose-dextrin substituted calories supplied by ethanol. Chow animals were fed a standard rat chow ad libitum. Proximal tibiae were removed and prepared for histomorphometric analysis after 3, 6, 9, 12, or 18 months on the diets. Previous studies, with young animals, showed that chronic alcohol consumption during the age of bone development reduced bone volume and trabecular number in cancellous bone. The present study demonstrates that these reductions last throughout life. The rate of bone formation is reduced in alcohol-fed animals, but most bone cell parameters are relative normal, except for wall thickness, indicating a reduced osteoblast activity.