Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 223–231 | Cite as

Effects of chronic protein deficiency on skeletal development of young rats

  • Paul L. Glick
  • Dorothy J. Rowe
Laboratory Investigation


Protein deficiency was produced by freely feeding young rats a 1% lactalbumin diet for 12 weeks in order to study the effects of protein-calorie malnutrition on skeletal development. During the experiment the food and caloric intake and weight of the experimental animals decreased, while those parameters of the control animals progressively increased. However, when gross caloric intake was expressed as a function of the metabolic size of the animal, the caloric consumption was similar for both groups of animals.

The protein-deficient animals exhibited micro-radiographic and histological features of an abnormal pattern of endochondral bone formation. Appositional bone growth, as determined by the daily appositional rate and the percentage of endosteal surfaces undergoing active bone formation, was significantly decreased in these animals, as was the percentage of periosteal surfaces exhibiting resorption. Both chemical analyses of the whole bone and electron probe microanalysis in the specific area of actively calcifying bone revealed no significant differences between the mineral content of control and protein-deficient animals.

This study distinguishes the effects of protein deficiency from that of combined protein-calorie deprivation and demonstrates that the abnormal skeletal development observed was the result of a decrease in the quantity of bone formed rather than an altered mineral content.

Key words

Protein deficiency Bone formation Skeletal development Rat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul L. Glick
    • 1
  • Dorothy J. Rowe
    • 1
  1. 1.Veterans Administration Medicine Center and Dows Institute for Dental ResearchUniversity of Iowa College of DentistryIowa CityUSA

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