Background Little is known about the degree to which baboons, an important animal model in skeletal research, spontaneously experience age-related osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Methods We measured bone mineral density (BMD) in 667 baboons, assigned T-scores to older animals based on sex-specific young adult reference groups, and compared reproductive history in older females with low BMD to those with normal BMD.
Results Approximately 25% of older baboon females were osteopenic. No females or males were osteoporotic. Neither parity nor interbirth interval spine clearly distinguished low vs. normal BMD groups. Intersite correspondence in low BMD was highest between sites in the same region rather than sites of the same bone type.
Conclusion As with humans, osteopenia is common among older females. The absence of osteoporotic animals may be due to colony maintenance resulting in truncation of the aged population and selection for healthier animals in the oldest ranges.