The study comprised seven groups of intact rats killed at 9, 12, 15, and 24 months of age, and three groups of rats castrated at the age of 9 months and killed together with the intact rats 3, 6, and 15 months after castration. The composition, dimension, and mechanical properties of intact bone as well as the constituent bone collagen from femoral diaphyses were investigated in relation to both age (9–24 months) and castration. Castration had no effect on density and only minor effect on ash and collagen contents. An age-related increase in bone mass, cross-sectional area, and wall thickness of the diaphyses was arrested (bone mass, area) or even reversed (to a decrease in wall thickness) after castration. Therefore, a growing difference, pronounced from 6 months after castration, between intact and castrated rats was observed in bone mass, cross-sectional area, and wall thickness. The compressive mechanical strength of intact bone normalized with regard to cross-sectional area was unaffected by castration, whereas castration tended to increase the stiffness of the bone collagen. When observed in a polarization microscope, two different zones in cross sections of the diaphyses were apparent. The average diameter of the border line separating the two zones was independent of age and castration. By measuring the average thickness of each of the two zones, age-related periosteal bone formation and endosteal bone resorption were demonstrated. After castration, the rate of bone formation was reduced and the rate of bone resorption was accelerated. Castration was thus found to affect the composition and the quality of the cortical bone to a minor extent only. On the other hand, the quantity of cortical bone was markedly reduced from 6 months after castration due to both an inhibited rate of bone formation and an accelerated rate of bone resorption.
Castration Collagen Cortical bone Mechanical properties Bone turnover