Raloxifene, Estrogen, and Alendronate Affect the Processes of Fracture Repair Differently in Ovariectomized Rats


  • Dr. Ma, Dr. Westmore, and Dr. Sato have corporate appointments and own stock with Eli Lilly & Company. All other authors have no conflict of interest.


We investigated the effects of inhibitors of bone resorption (estrogen, raloxifene, and alendronate) on the processes of fracture repair in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. One hundred forty female Sprague-Dawley rats at 3 months of age were either OVX or sham-operated and divided into five groups: sham control, OVX control, estrogen (17α-ethynyl estradiol [EE2], 0.1 mg/kg), raloxifene (Rlx, 1.0 mg/kg), and alendronate (Aln, 0.01 mg/kg) groups. Treatment began immediately after the surgery. Four weeks postovariectomy, prefracture controls were killed and bilateral osteotomies were performed on the femoral midshafts and fixed with intramedullary wires. Treatment was continued and fracture calluses were excised at 6 weeks and 16 weeks postfracture for evaluation by X-ray radiography, quantitative computed tomography (QCT,) biomechanical testing, and histomorphometry. At 6 weeks postfracture, Aln and OVX had larger calluses than other groups. Sham and OVX had higher ultimate load than EE2 and Rlx, with Aln not different from either control. Aln calluses also contained more mineral (bone mineral content [BMC]) than all other groups. By 16 weeks postfracture, OVX calluses were smaller than at 6 weeks and the dimensions for Aln had not changed. Aln had higher BMC and ultimate load than OVX, EE2, and Rlx. EE2 and Rlx had similar biomechanical properties, which were similar to sham. Interestingly, OVX and Aln animals were heavier than other groups at all time points; therefore, ultimate load was normalized by body weight to show no significant differences in strength of the whole callus between groups at either 6 weeks or 16 weeks postfracture. However, Aln strongly suppressed remodeling of the callus, resulting in the highest content of woven bone, persistent visibility of the original fracture line, and lowest content of lamellar bone, compared with other groups. Therefore, the larger Aln callus appeared to be a remarkable, morphological adaptation to secure the fracture with inferior material. In conclusion, OVX-stimulated bone turnover resulted in the fastest progression of fracture repair that was most delayed with Aln treatment, consistent with marked suppression of bone resorption and formation activity. Estrogen and Rlx had similar effects that were generally similar to sham, indicating that mild suppression of bone turnover with these agents has insignificant effects on the progression of fracture repair.