, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 272-279
Date: 08 Mar 2004

Vitamin E Provides Protection for Bone in Mature Hindlimb Unloaded Male Rats

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The deleterious effects of skeletal unloading on bone mass and strength may, in part, result from increased production of oxygen-derived free radicals and proinflammatory cytokines. This study was designed to evaluate the ability of vitamin E (α-tocopherol), a free-radical scavenger with antiinflammatory properties, to protect against bone loss caused by skeletal unloading in mature male Sprague-Dawley rats. A 2 × 3 factorial design was used with either hindlimb unloading (HU) or normal loading (ambulatory; AMB), and low-dose (LD; 15 IU/kg diet), adequate-dose (AD; 75 IU/kg diet), or high-dose (HD; 500 IU/kg diet) vitamin E (DL-α-tocopherol acetate). To optimize the effects of vitamin E on bone, dietary treatments were initiated 9 weeks prior to unloading and continued during the 4-week unloading period, at which time animals were euthanized and blood and tissue samples were collected. Serum vitamin E was dose-dependently increased, confirming the vitamin E status of animals. The HD treatment improved oxidation parameters, as indicated by elevated serum ferric–reducing ability and a trend toward reducing tissue lipid peroxidation. Histomorphometric analysis of the distal femur revealed significant reductions in trabecular thickness (TbTh), double-labeled surface (dLS/BS), and rate of bone formation to bone volume (BFR/BV) due by HU. AMB animals on the HD diet and HU animals on the LD diet had reduced bone surface normalized to tissue volume (BS/TV) and trabecular number (TbN); however, the HD vitamin E protected against these changes in the HU animals. Our findings suggest that vitamin E supplementation provides modest bone protective effects during skeletal unloading.