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Keywords:

  • bone innervation;
  • brachial plexus anesthesia;
  • mechanical loading;
  • bone formation;
  • bone neuropeptides

Abstract

Regulation of load-induced bone formation is considered a local phenomenon controlled by osteocytes, although it has also been hypothesized that functional adaptation may be neuronally regulated. The aim of this study was to examine bone formation in multiple bones, in response to loading of a single bone, and to determine whether adaptation may be neuronally regulated. Load-induced responses in the left and right ulnas and humeri were determined after loading of the right ulna in male Sprague-Dawley rats (69 ± 16 days of age). After a single period of loading at −760-, −2000-, or −3750-μϵ initial peak strain, rats were given calcein to label new bone formation. Bone formation and bone neuropeptide concentrations were determined at 10 days. In one group, temporary neuronal blocking was achieved by perineural anesthesia of the brachial plexus with bupivicaine during loading. We found right ulna loading induces adaptive responses in other bones in both thoracic limbs compared with Sham controls and that neuronal blocking during loading abrogated bone formation in the loaded ulna and other thoracic limb bones. Skeletal adaptation was more evident in distal long bones compared with proximal long bones. We also found that the single period of loading modulated bone neuropeptide concentrations persistently for 10 days. We conclude that functional adaptation to loading of a single bone in young rapidly growing rats is neuronally regulated and involves multiple bones. Persistent changes in bone neuropeptide concentrations after a single loading period suggest that plasticity exists in the innervation of bone.