Disuse by bed rest, limb immobilization, or space flight causes rapid bone loss by arresting bone formation and accelerating bone resorption. Propranolol (a non-selective β-adrenergic antagonist) has been shown to improve bone properties by increasing bone formation and decreasing bone resorption in an ovariectomy-induced rat model. However, no studies have yet compared the osteoprotective properties of propranolol with well-accepted therapeutic interventions for the treatment and prevention of immobilization/disuse osteo-porosis. To clarify this, we investigated the effects of propranolol compared with zoledronic acid and alfacalcidol in a new animal model of immobilization/disuse osteoporosis. Three-month-old male Wistar rats were divided into five groups with six animals in each group: (1) immobilized (IMM) control; (2) normal control; (3) IMM + zoledronic acid (50 μg/kg, intravenous single dose); (4) IMM + alfacalcidol (0.5 μg/kg, per oral daily); (5) IMM + propranolol (0.1 mg/kg, subcutaneously 5 days/week) for 10 weeks. In groups 1 and 3-5, the right hindlimb was immobilized. At the end of treatment, the femurs were removed and tested for bone porosity, bone mechanical properties, and cortical microarchitecture. Treatment with propranolol induced greater reductions in the bone porosity of the right femur and improved the mechanical properties of the femoral mid-shaft femur in comparison to the IMM control. Moreover, treatment with propranolol also improved the microarchitecture of cortical bones when compared with the IMM control, as indicated by scanning electron microscopy. The anti-osteoporotic property of propranolol was comparable with zoledronic acid and alfacalcidol. This study shows that the bone resorption induced by immobilization/disuse in rats can be suppressed by treatment with propranolol.
- Bone strength
- Rat model