Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 137–142 | Cite as

Effect of a five-week swimming program on rat bone: A histomorphometric study

  • S. Bourrin
  • F. Ghaemmaghami
  • L. Vico
  • D. Chappard
  • C. Gharib
  • C. Alexandre
Laboratory Investigations


To specify the exercise-induced changes on different skeletal sites, the effect of a 5-week endurance swin training was studied in rats. Eighteen Lyon strain (Sprague-Dawley) 5-week old female rats were divided into nine sedentary and nine swimming rats. Each swim training session was increased by 15 minutes from 2–6 hours per day. A histomorphometric study was performed at the primary and secondary spongiosa of the distal femur and at the secondary spongiosa of lumbar and thoracic vertebral bodies. After training, bone loss was observed in the secondary spongiosa of lumbar vertebral bodies (24.7%) and in the primary spongiosa of distal femur (15.2%). A tendency to bone loss was also detected in the secondary spongiosa of distal femur (10.8%), whereas no change was detected in thoracic vertebral bodies. In secondary spongiosa, bone loss was accompanied with a thinning of trabeculae. Total eroded surfaces and osteoid surfaces were significantly decreased in the three studied skeletal sites, suggesting a decreased bone turnover. The decreased thickness of osteoid seams in both lumbar vertebrae and distal femur could mean that the osteoblastic activity has also been altered at the cell level, leading to thinning of trabeculae. Five-week swim training with such duration and intensity of exercise appears unable to increase bone volume in rats and, therefore, causes adverse effects. The three studied bones seemed to adapt differently to experimental conditions. The lack of ground reaction forces induced by water immersion might have contributed to the observed bone loss. “Normal” gravity would be an important cofactor in the osteogenic effects of exercise.

Key words

Swimming exercise Bone histomorphometry Rat 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Turner RT, Wakley GK (1985) Effect of gravitational and muscular loading on bone formation in growing rats. Physiol 28S:S67-S68Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Leblanc AD, Evans HJ, Johnson PC, Jhingrans S (1983) Changes in total body calcium balance with exercise in the rat. J Appl Physiol (1):201–204Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    McDonald R, Hegenauer J, Saltman P (1986) Age-related differences in the bone mineralisation pattern of rats following exercise. J Gerontol 41:445–452Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ringe JD, Steinhagen-Thiessen E (1985) Prevention of physiological age-dependent bone atrophy by controlled exercise in mice. Age 2:44–47Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dalen N, Olsson KE (1974) Bone mineral content and physical activity. Acta Orthop Scand 45:170–174Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Margulies JY, Simkin A, Leichter I, Bivas A, Seinberg R, Giladi M, Stein M, Kashtan M, Milgrom C (1986) Effect of intense physical activity on the bone-mineral content in the lower limbs of young adults. J Bone Joint Surg 68A:1090–1093Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Montoye HJ, Smith EL (1980) Bone mineral in senior tennis players. Scand J Sports Science 2:26–32Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Carter DR (1987) Mechanical loading history and skeletal biology. J Biomech 20:1095–1109Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lanyon LE, Rubin CT, Baust G (1986) Modulation of bone loss during calcium insufficiency by controlled dynamic loading. Calcif Tissue Int 38:209–216Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Swissa-Sivan A, Simkin A, Leichter I, Nyska A, Nyska M, Statter M, Bivas A, Menczel J, Samueloff S (1989) Effect of swimming on bone growth and development in young rats. Bone Miner 7:91–105Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Orwoll ES, Ferar J, Oviatt SK, Hutington K, McClung MR (1987) Swimming exercise and bone mass. In: Christiansen C, Johansen JS, Riis BJ (eds) Osteoporosis. Norhaven A/S (Viborg), pp 494–498Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nilson BE, Whestlin NE (1971) Bone density in athletes. Clin Orthop Rel Res 77:179–182Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Vico L, Bakulin AV, Alexandre C (1987) Does 7-day hindquarters unloading simulate 7 days of weightlessness exposure in rat trabecular bone? In: Proc 3rd Eur Symp on Life Sciences Research in Space, Graz, Austria, 14–18 Sept, (ESA SP-271, Dec 1987)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Astrand PO, Rodahl K (1980) Précis de Physiologie de l'Exercice Musculaire. Masson (ed) Paris, pp 222–224Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Armstrong RB, Saubert CW, Sembowich WL, Shepherd RE, Gollnick PD (1974) Glycogen depletion in rat skeletal muscle fibers at different intensities and durations of exercise. Pflügers Arch 352:243–256Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Shepherd RE, Gollnick PD (1976) Oxygen uptake of rats at different work intensities. Pflügers, Arch 362:219–222Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hollozy JO, Booth FW (1976) Biochemical adaptations to endurance exercise in muscle. Ann Rev Physiol 38:273–291Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ghaemmaghami F, Gauquelin G, Favier R, Vincent M, Sassard J, Legros JJ, Allevard AM, Gharib C (1986a) Effect of swim training on systolic blood pressure and total neurophysins in the Lyon hypertensive rat. J Hypertension 4(suppl 3):S475-S478Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ghaemmaghami F, Sassolas A, Gauquelin G, Favier R, Vincent M, Sassard J, Gharib C (1986b) Swim training in genetically hypertensive rats of the Lyon strain: effects on plasma lipids and lipoproteins. J Hypertension 4:319–324Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chappard D, Palle S, Alexandre C, Vico L, Riffat G (1987) Bone embedding in pure methyl methacrylate at low temperature preserves enzyme activities. Act Histochem 81:175–183Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chappard D, Palle S, Alexandre C, Vico L, Riffat G (1986) Simultaneous identification of calcified cartilage, bone and osteoid tissue on plastic sections. New polychrome procedures specially adapted to image analyzer systems. J Histotechnol 9:95–99Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Baron R, Tross R, Vignery A (1984) Evidence of sequential remodeling in rat trabecular bone: morphology, dynamic histomorphometry, and changes during skeletal maturation. Anat Rec 208:137–145Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Vico L, Chappard D, Palle S, Bakulin AV, Nvikov VE, Alexandre C (1988) Trabecular bone remodeling after seven days of weightlessness exposure (Biocosmos 1667). Am J Physiol 255:R243-R247Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Parfitt AM, Drezner MK, Glorieux FH, Kanis JA, Malluche H, Meunier PJ, Ott SM, Recker RR (1987) Bone histomorphometry: standardization of nomenclature, symbols and units. J Bone Miner Res 2:595–610Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Parfitt AM (1983) Stereologic basis of bone histomorphometry: theory of quantitative microscopy and reconstruction of the third dimension. In: Recker RR (ed) Bone histomorphometry: techniques and interpretation. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp 53–89Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Frost HM (1969) Tetracycline-based analysis of bone remodeling. Calcif Tissue Res 3:211–237Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Parfitt AM (1988) Bone remodeling: relationship to the amount and structure of bone, and the pathogenesis and prevention of fractures. In: Riggs BL, Melton III LJ (eds) Osteoporosis etiology, diagnosis and management. Raven Press, New York, pp 45–99Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Frost HM (1987) The mechanostat: a proposed pathogenic mechanism of osteoporoses and the bone mass effects of mechanical and nonmechanical agents. Bone Miner 2:73–85Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jee WSS, Park HZ, Roberts WE, Kenner GH (1970) Corticosteroid and bone. Am J Anat 129:477–480Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Morey ER, Baylink DJ (1978) Inhibition of bone formation during space flight. Science 20:1138–1141Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Vincent M, Sacqet J, Sassard J (1987) The Lyon strains of hypertensive, normotensive and low blood pressure rats. Handbook of Hypertension 14:314–327Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Simkin A, Leichter I, Swissa-Sivan A (1989) Can swimming produce mechanical stimulus for bone remodelling? (abstract) Calcif Tissue Int 44S:S-99Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lanyon LE, Rubin CT (1984) Static vs dynamic loads as an influence on bone remodelling. J Biomech 17:897–905Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kristensen IB, Melsen F, Mosekilde L (1989) Cortical bone cross-sectional osteon size in chronic pulmonary insufficiency and regional ischemic states. APMIS 97:131–135Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Steinberg ME, Trueta J (1981) Effects of activity on bone growth and development in the rat. Clin Orthop Rel Res 156: 52–60Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Adolfsson J, Ljungkvist A, Tornling G, Unge G (1981) Capillary increase in the skeletal muscle of trained young and adult rats. J Physiol 310:529–532Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kiiskinen A, Heikkinen E (1978) Physical training and connective tissues in young mice: biochemistry of long bones. J Appl Physiol 50–54Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Globus RK, Bikle DD, Halloran B, Morey-Holton E (1986) Skeletal response to dietary calcium in a rat model simulating weightlessness. J Bone Miner Res 1(2):191–197Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Bourrin
    • 1
  • F. Ghaemmaghami
    • 2
  • L. Vico
    • 1
  • D. Chappard
    • 1
  • C. Gharib
    • 2
  • C. Alexandre
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie du Tissu OsseuxFaculté de médecine Jacques LisfrancSaint-Etienne Cedex 2France
  2. 2.Laboratoire de physiologieFaculté de médecine Grange-BlancheLyon Cedex 08France

Personalised recommendations