The Effect of Chronic Long-Term Intermittent Hypobaric Hypoxia on Bone Mineral Density in Rats: Role of Nitric Oxide


Intermittent hypoxia is the most common pattern of hypoxic exposure in humans. The effect of chronic long-term intermittent hypobaric hypoxia (CLTIHH) on bone metabolism is not investigated. We examined the effect of CLTIHH on bone metabolism and the role of nitric oxide (NO) in this process. The rats were divided into three groups in this study. The animals in groups I and II have been exposed to CLTIHH. The animals in group II were also treated with nitric oxide synthase inhibitor NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester. To obtain CLTIHH, rats were placed in a hypobaric chamber (430 mm Hg; 5 h/day, 5 days/week, 5 weeks). The group III (control) rats breathed room air in the same environment. At the begining of the experiments, bone mineral density (BMD) of the animals were measured, and blood samples were collected from the tail vein. After the 5-week CLTIHH period, the same measurements were repeated. Parathyroid hormone, calcium, phosphate, bone alkaline phosphatase (b-ALP), NO, interleukin 1 beta, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha levels were determined. The cytokines, NO levels, and BMD in CLTIHH-induced rats were higher compared with baseline and control values. The cytokines, b-ALP, and BMD increased while NO levels decreased in the group II compared with baseline values. BMD values of group II were lower than group I but higher than control group. Our results suggested that CLTIHH has positive effects on bone density. Intermittent hypoxia protocols may be developed for treatment and prevention of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

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Correspondence to Gonul Simsek.

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Guner, I., Uzun, D.D., Yaman, M.O. et al. The Effect of Chronic Long-Term Intermittent Hypobaric Hypoxia on Bone Mineral Density in Rats: Role of Nitric Oxide. Biol Trace Elem Res 154, 262–267 (2013).

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  • Intermittent hypoxia
  • Bone metabolism
  • Bone mineral density
  • Nitric oxide
  • l-NAME
  • Cytokines