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2001   Volume No 1 - pages 66-81

Title: Animal models of osteoporosis - necessity and limitations

Authors: A. Simon Turner

Address: Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523, USA

E-mail: sturner at lamar.colostate.edu

Key Words: Osteoporosis, osteopenia, animal models, bone mineral density, ovariectomized sheep, bone metabolism, hormonal therapy, selective estrogen receptor modulatorss, implants, ceramics, vertebroplasty.

Publication date: 22th June 2001

Abstract: There is a great need to further characterise the available animal models for postmenopausal osteoporosis, for the understanding of the pathogenesis of the disease, investigation of new therapies (e.g. selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)) and evaluation of prosthetic devices in osteoporotic bone. Animal models that have been used in the past include non-human primates, dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, guinea pigs and minipigs, all of which have advantages and disadvantages. Sheep are a promising model for various reasons: they are docile, easy to handle and house, relatively inexpensive, available in large numbers, spontaneously ovulate, and the sheep's bones are large enough to evaluate orthopaedic implants. Most animal models have used females and osteoporosis in the male has been largely ignored. Recently, interest in development of appropriate prosthetic devices which would stimulate osseointegration into osteoporotic, appendicular, axial and mandibular bone has intensified. Augmentation of osteopenic lumbar vertebrae with bioactive ceramics (vertebroplasty) is another area that will require testing in the appropriate animal model. Using experimental animal models for the study of these different facets of osteoporosis minimizes some of the difficulties associated with studying the disease in humans, namely time and behavioral variability among test subjects. New experimental drug therapies and orthopaedic implants can potentially be tested on large numbers of animals subjected to a level of experimental control impossible in human clinical research.

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