Age, Nutrition, and Bone Metabolism: Analyses of Effects Using a Short-Term In Vivo Bone Model

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The preventative effects of dietary calcium, zinc, and vitamin D metabolites on the net loss of bone were assessed using rats of different ages. Biochemical changes were monitored in femurs, humeri, mandibles, scapulas, and tibias. In addition femora were sectioned into epiphyses-metaphyses and diaphyses to evaluate nutritional influences on the trabecular and cortical type bone. since measurable bone degradation due to aging and nutritional status requires long period of time, a short-term in vivo system was developed to simultaneously examine bone formation and resorption. The system consisted of subcutaneous implantation of demineralized (DB) and mineralized (MB) bone powders. There was evidence of bone formation and resorption in the DB and MB implants respectively, as assessed by marker enzyme (formation-alkaline phosphatase; resorption-acid phosphatase) activities, mineral concentrations, radioisotope incorporation, and histological studies. The results indicated that several different bone samples are required to adequately predict changes occurring in the skeletal system. The epiphysesmetaphyses of long bone is a useful sample site examining changes occurring in trabecular bone while the diaphysis can assess cortical bone status. There was decreased bone formation and resorption as assessed by alkaline and acid phosphatase activity in the MB and DB implants in the 24 month-old rats as compared to 2 month-old rats. Dietary calcium and zinc levels did not affect the overall status of the bones and implants in the aged rats. Conversely, in 2 month-old rats dietary calcium at 1.0% stimulated bone formation in the DB implant, whereas 0.2% calcium increased bone resorption in the MB implants. Furthermore, 75 ng dietary 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (l,25(OH) 2 D) per day increased resorption in MB implant and inhibited mineralization of DB implants in the young rats. Dietary zinc at 300 ppm reduced bone calcification in 2 month-old. The results of these studies indicated that neither high levels of dietary calcium, nor zinc, act as prophylaxes to counteract bone loss due to aging. The dietary use of l,25(OH) 2 D in old animals needs to be investigated further, since results in young animals are contradictory with reports in older rats.