eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-Profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2012   Volume No 24 – pages 372-385

Title: Large animal model for osteoporosis in humans: the ewe

Author: R Oheim, M Amling, A Ignatius, P Pogoda

Address: Department of Osteology and Biomechanics, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany

E-mail: amling at

Key Words: Large animal models; sheep; osteoporosis; bone; orthopaedics.

Publication date: November 12th 2012

Abstract: Osteoporosis is a chronic systemic disease characterised by bone loss and microarchitectural deterioration. Since the underlying regulatory mechanisms are still not fully understood and treatment options are not satisfactorily resolved, massive efforts are underway to further investigate this critical illness. Large animal models are stipulated, e.g. by the Food and Drug Administration, for preclinical prevention and intervention studies related to osteoporosis research; in this context, the ewe has already proven its value for orthopaedic research. Although oestrogen deficiency doubtless influences bone metabolism in sheep, the ovariectomised ewe seems unsuitable as a model for postmenopausal osteoporosis and bone loss induction due to its unreliable impact on bone mass and structure. In contrast, glucocorticoid treatment has a major impact on bone turnover and leads to bone conditions comparable to those found in steroid-treated humans. However, adverse side effects can be dramatic resulting in unacceptable discomfort and illness of the experimental animals. Further improvements are therefore essential to judge this model as ethically appropriate. Additionally, models for osteoporosis induced by surgical interventions of central regulatory mechanisms seem to be attractive, as remarkable bone loss is induced by only one surgical procedure without any further treatment. Taken together, different ewe models for osteoporosis have been successfully established and are invaluable for orthopaedic research. However, the search for a 'perfect' large remodelling animal model – in terms of mimicking the human disease and compatibility of bone loss, and without ethical concerns – is still on-going.

Article download: Pages 372-385 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v024a27