Current Osteoporosis Reports

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 182–197 | Cite as

Preclinical and Translational Studies in Small Ruminants (Sheep and Goat) as Models for Osteoporosis Research

  • Isabel R. DiasEmail author
  • José A. Camassa
  • João A. Bordelo
  • Pedro S. Babo
  • Carlos A. Viegas
  • Nuno Dourado
  • Rui L. Reis
  • Manuela E. Gomes
Regenerative Biology and Medicine in Osteoporosis (T Webster, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Regenerative Biology and Medicine in Osteoporosis


Purpose of the Review

This review summarizes research on the use of sheep and goats as large animal models of human osteoporosis for preclinical and translational studies.

Recent Findings

The most frequent osteoporotic sheep model used is the ovariectomized sheep with 12 months post-operatively or more and the combined treatment of ovariectomized sheep associated to calcium/vitamin D-deficient diet and glucocorticoid applications for 6 months, but other methods are also described, like pinealectomy or hypothalamic-pituitary disconnection in ovariectomized sheep. The goat model for osteoporosis research has been used in a very limited number of studies in osteoporosis research relative to sheep. These osteoporotic small ruminant models are applied for biomaterial research, bone augmentation, efficacy of implant fixation, fragility fracture-healing process improvement, or bone-defect repair studies in the osteopenic or osteoporotic bone.


Sheep are a recognized large animal model for preclinical and translational studies in osteoporosis research and the goat to a lesser extent. Recently, the pathophysiological mechanism underlying induction of osteoporosis in glucocorticoid-treated ovariectomized aged sheep was clarified, being similar to what occurs in postmenopausal women with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. It was also concluded that the receptor activator of NF-κB ligand was stimulated in the late progressive phase of the osteoporosis induced by steroids in sheep. The knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms at the cellular and molecular levels of the induction of osteoporosis in small ruminants, if identical to humans, will allow in the future, the use of these animal models with greater confidence in the preclinical and translational studies for osteoporosis research.


Bone Goat Large animal models Orthopedics Osteoporosis Sheep 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. José A. Camassa reports and acknowledges the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil) for his PhD scholarship 202248/2015-1.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel R. Dias
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • José A. Camassa
    • 1
  • João A. Bordelo
    • 1
  • Pedro S. Babo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carlos A. Viegas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nuno Dourado
    • 4
  • Rui L. Reis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Manuela E. Gomes
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Sciences, Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences SchoolUniversity of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD)Vila RealPortugal
  2. 2.3B’s Research Group-Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics, Department of Polymer EngineeringUniversity of Minho, Headquarters of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative MedicineGuimarãesPortugal
  3. 3.ICVS/3B’s-PT Government Associate LaboratoryGuimarãesPortugal
  4. 4.CMEMS-UMinho, Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of MinhoGuimarãesPortugal

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