Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 272–279 | Cite as

Vitamin E Provides Protection for Bone in Mature Hindlimb Unloaded Male Rats

  • B. J. Smith
  • E. A. Lucas
  • R. T. Turner
  • G. L. Evans
  • M. R. Lerner
  • D. J. Brackett
  • B. J. Stoecker
  • B. H. Arjmandi


The deleterious effects of skeletal unloading on bone mass and strength may, in part, result from increased production of oxygen-derived free radicals and proinflammatory cytokines. This study was designed to evaluate the ability of vitamin E (α-tocopherol), a free-radical scavenger with antiinflammatory properties, to protect against bone loss caused by skeletal unloading in mature male Sprague-Dawley rats. A 2 × 3 factorial design was used with either hindlimb unloading (HU) or normal loading (ambulatory; AMB), and low-dose (LD; 15 IU/kg diet), adequate-dose (AD; 75 IU/kg diet), or high-dose (HD; 500 IU/kg diet) vitamin E (DL-α-tocopherol acetate). To optimize the effects of vitamin E on bone, dietary treatments were initiated 9 weeks prior to unloading and continued during the 4-week unloading period, at which time animals were euthanized and blood and tissue samples were collected. Serum vitamin E was dose-dependently increased, confirming the vitamin E status of animals. The HD treatment improved oxidation parameters, as indicated by elevated serum ferric–reducing ability and a trend toward reducing tissue lipid peroxidation. Histomorphometric analysis of the distal femur revealed significant reductions in trabecular thickness (TbTh), double-labeled surface (dLS/BS), and rate of bone formation to bone volume (BFR/BV) due by HU. AMB animals on the HD diet and HU animals on the LD diet had reduced bone surface normalized to tissue volume (BS/TV) and trabecular number (TbN); however, the HD vitamin E protected against these changes in the HU animals. Our findings suggest that vitamin E supplementation provides modest bone protective effects during skeletal unloading.


α-Tocopherol Hindlimb unloading Antioxidants COX-2 Osteoporosis 



The authors wish to express their appreciation to Ms. Tracy Riggs and Mrs. Sloan Martin for their assistance with animal care and laboratory analyses. This research was supported by grants from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (98-HEDS-02) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. J. Smith
    • 1
  • E. A. Lucas
    • 2
  • R. T. Turner
    • 3
  • G. L. Evans
    • 3
  • M. R. Lerner
    • 4
  • D. J. Brackett
    • 4
  • B. J. Stoecker
    • 2
  • B. H. Arjmandi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Surgery Research University of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human and Environmental SciencesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Orthopedics, and Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Department of Surgery, College of MedicineUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center & Veterans Affairs Medical CenterOklahoma CityUSA

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