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1 November 2011

Is decreased bone mineral density associated with development of scoliosis?A bipedal osteopenic rat model

An association between adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and osteopenia has been proposed to exist. It is still not clear whether there is such an association and if so, whether osteopenia is a causative factor or a consequence.

Our previous pilot studies have suggested the presence of osteopenia in scoliotic animals. The aim of this study was to investigate the development of scoliosis in an unpinealectomized bipedal osteopenic rat model, implementing osteoporosis as a causative factor. 

Methods: Fifty Sprague-Dawley rats were rendered bipedal at the 3rd postnatal week and separated into control (25 rats) and heparin (25 rats receiving 1 IU/gr body weight/day) groups.

DEXA scans after 4 weeks of heparin administration showed low bone mass in the heparin group. Anteroposterior and lateral x-rays of the surviving 42 animals (19 in heparin and 23 in control groups) were taken under anesthesia at the 40th week to evaluate for spinal deformity.

Additional histomorphometric analysis was done on spine specimens to confirm the low bone mass in heparin receiving animals. Results of the DEXA scans, histomorphometric analysis and radiological data were compared between the groups. 

Results: Bone mineral densities of rats in the heparin group were significantly lower than the control group as evidenced by both the DEXA scans and histomorphometric analyses.

However, the incidence of scoliosis (82% in heparin and 65% in control; p>0.05) as well as the curve magnitudes (12.13.8 in heparin versus 10.14.3 degrees in control; p>0.05) were not significantly different. Osteopenic rats were significantly less kyphotic compared to control specimens (p=0.001). 

Conclusions: This study has revealed two important findings.

One is that bipedality (in the absence of pinealectomy) by itself may be a cause of scoliosis in this animal model. Further studies on animal models need to consider bipedality as an independent factor.

Secondly, relative hypokyphosis in osteopenic animals may have important implications. The absence of sagittal plane analyses in previous studies makes comparison impossible, but nonetheless these findings suggest that osteopenia may be important in the development of 3D deformity in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Author: Ozgur DedeIbrahim AkelGokhan DemirkiranNadir YalcinRalph MarcucioEmre Acaroglu
Credits/Source: Scoliosis 2011, 6:24

About Dr Kevin Lau
Dr Kevin Lau DC is the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for Scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his book Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, a companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD and the innovative new iPhone application ScolioTrack. Dr Kevin Lau D.C. is a graduate in Doctor of Chiropractic from RMIT University in Melbourne Australia and Masters in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health in USA. In 2006 I was awarded the "Best Health-care Provider Awards" by the largest Newspaper publication in Singapore on October 18 2006 as well as being interviewed on Primetime Channel News Asia as well as other TV and Radio. For more information on Dr Kevin Lau, watch his interviews or get a free sneak peek of his book, go to:

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