Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 205–213 | Cite as

Relationship Between Osteopenia and Lumbar Intervertebral Disc Degeneration in Ovariectomized Rats

  • T. Wang
  • L. Zhang
  • C. Huang
  • A. G. Cheng
  • G. T. Dang


Ovariectomy (OVX) can cause bone loss in rats, but little is known about how it also induces lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration (LVD). This study investigated how estrogen deficiency affected intervertebral discs in OVX rats. Thirty 3-month-old female Sprague–Dawley rats were divided randomly into three equal groups. The baseline control group (BL) was killed at the beginning of the experiment. An ovariectomy was performed in 10 rats (OVX group) and another group of 10 rats was subjected to a sham surgery (Sham group). The OVX rats were untreated after the surgery to allow for the development of moderate osteopenia. Bone mineral density (BMD) measurement and bone histomorphometric analysis were applied to the segments of lumbar spines in all rats killed 6 months after surgery. The pathological changes of intervertebral discs were observed and the degree of LVD was scored by a histological scoring system. The BMD of the spines (L3–L5) in the OVX group decreased significantly compared with the Sham group. The bone volume indices in the OVX group were significantly lower, but the bone turnover rate parameters were significantly higher than those in the Sham group (P < 0.01). The histological scores for LVD in the OVX group were significantly higher than those in the Sham group (P < 0.01). There was a significant negative correlation between the BMD and Grade II discs in the OVX rats (P = 0.042). In conclusion, LVD occurs in the OVX rats and the degeneration of cartilage end plates may be a pathogenic factor in disc degeneration.


Osteopenia Intervertebral disc Degeneration Ovariectomy 



We wish to thank Jucai Xiang and his colleagues for their excellent help with the sections and the staining, and Junjun Zhang, M.D., and Lijie Ma, M.D., for their enthusiastic contributions. We also appreciate the assistance of Ying Luo, Ph.D. from Peking University and Daniel A. Calvin from Peking University Health Science Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Wang
    • 1
  • L. Zhang
    • 2
  • C. Huang
    • 3
  • A. G. Cheng
    • 2
  • G. T. Dang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryPeking University Third HospitalBeijingP. R. China
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryAffiliated Hospital, North China Coal Medical CollegeTangshanP. R. China
  3. 3.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryYan Tai Shan HospitalYantaiP. R. China

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