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Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of long-term running training on the structural properties of bone. Ten beagle dogs ran according to a strenuous progressive program (up to 40 km/day) for 1 year. At the end of the training program, there was a significant reduction in bone mineral density (up to 9.7%) in the vertebrae of the runner dogs as compared with 10 sedentary control dogs. Polarized light microscopy of the vertebral trabecular bone, however, displayed proportionally higher retardation values of the collagen network of the runner dogs than of the sedentary dogs, suggesting a reorganization in a more parallel manner in the collagen fibrils. The concentration and cross-linking of collagen in the bones remained similar in both groups. No differences were observed in the force to failure of bones of the two groups nor in the histomorphometric analysis of the bones. We suggest that the collagen network in the bones accounted for the maintenance of the strength properties in the bones of the runner dogs despite the loss of mineral density.