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Effects of low intensity vibration on bone and muscle in rats with spinal cord injury

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes rapid and marked bone loss. The present study demonstrates that low-intensity vibration (LIV) improves selected biomarkers of bone turnover and gene expression and reduces osteoclastogenesis, suggesting that LIV may be expected to benefit to bone mass, resorption, and formation after SCI.


Sublesional bone is rapidly and extensively lost following spinal cord injury (SCI). Low-intensity vibration (LIV) has been suggested to reduce loss of bone in children with disabilities and osteoporotic women, but its efficacy in SCI-related bone loss has not been tested. The purpose of this study was to characterize effects of LIV on bone and bone cells in an animal model of SCI.


The effects of LIV initiated 28 days after SCI and provided for 15 min twice daily 5 days each week for 35 days were examined in female rats with moderate severity contusion injury of the mid-thoracic spinal cord.


Bone mineral density (BMD) of the distal femur and proximal tibia declined by 5 % and was not altered by LIV. Serum osteocalcin was reduced after SCI by 20 % and was increased by LIV to a level similar to that of control animals. The osteoclastogenic potential of bone marrow precursors was increased after SCI by twofold and associated with 30 % elevation in serum CTX. LIV reduced the osteoclastogenic potential of marrow precursors by 70 % but did not alter serum CTX. LIV completely reversed the twofold elevation in messenger RNA (mRNA) levels for SOST and the 40 % reduction in Runx2 mRNA in bone marrow stromal cells resulting from SCI.


The findings demonstrate an ability of LIV to improve selected biomarkers of bone turnover and gene expression and to reduce osteoclastogenesis. The study indicates a possibility that LIV initiated earlier after SCI and/or continued for a longer duration would increase bone mass.

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This work was supported by the Veterans Health Administration, Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (B9212-C and B0687-R), Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service (BX000521), the Department of Defense (#SC090504), and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. We wish to thank Drs. Edelle Field-Fote and Mark Nash for critical reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to W. Qin.

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Supplemental Figure 1

Histomorphometric analysis of bone at 63 days after a moderate mid-throacic contusion SCI. A. Representative sections of trabecular bone from the femoral metaphysis immunostained for TRAP. Note the reddish areas of TRAP+ staining on trabecular surfaces representing osteoclasts. B. Histomorphometric quantification of osteoclast numbers and surface: osteoclast surface per bone surface (Oc.S/Bs %); surface eroded by osteoclasts per bone surface (ES /Bs%), and number of osteoclasts per tissue area of interest (N. Oc/ T. Ar, Oc/mm2). Data are expressed as mean ± SEM. N = 5–6 per group. Significance of differences was determined using one-way ANOVA with a Newman–Keuls test post hoc. **P < 0.01 versus the indicated group; NS. No statistic significance. (GIF 277 kb)

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Bramlett, H.M., Dietrich, W.D., Marcillo, A. et al. Effects of low intensity vibration on bone and muscle in rats with spinal cord injury. Osteoporos Int 25, 2209–2219 (2014).

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