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The old sheep: A simple and appropriate model for senile osteopenia?

Tuesday (09.05.2017)
11:40 - 12:00
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Existing sheep osteoporosis models exhibit disadvantages, due to failure of reliable induction of substantial bone loss, lack of comparability to the human condition, challenging surgical procedures or serious ethical concerns. This study aimed to evaluate the suitability of the old sheep as a model for senile osteopenia.


Lumbar vertebral bodies (L3-L5) of old (6-10 years; n=41 vertebrae) and young (2-4 years; n=30 vertebrae) female merino sheep were analyzed by bone densitometry, quantitative histomorphometry, and biomechanical testing of the central spongious region.


Old animals showed similar bone mineral density of the vertebral bodies, but significantly decreased structural (BV/TV ratio, 40.2 ± 0.6% versus 44.8 ± 0.7% for young sheep, 10.4% decrease) and bone formation parameters (OV/TV, 0.2 ± 0.1% versus 0.3 ± 0.1% for young sheep, 24.2% decrease; OS/BS, 3.1 ± 1.2% versus 3.3 ± 0.7% for young sheep, 5.5% decrease), as well as significantly increased bone erosion (Oc.S/BS; 0.3 ± 0.1% versus 0.1 ± 0.1 % for young sheep, 2.2-fold increase). This resulted in significantly decreased biomechanical properties (compression strength, 23.7 ± 1.0 MPa versus 26.7 ± 1.1 MPa for young sheep, 11.4% decrease).


The old sheep may provide a suitable model of senile osteopenia with thinned bone structure, diminished bone formation, and augmented bone erosion. In addition, the underlying physiological aging concept eliminates challenging surgical procedures or ethical concerns and may be well representative of the human condition.


Prof. Dr. Raimund W. Kinne
University Hospital Jena
Additional Authors:
  • Dr. Stefan Maenz
    Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Dr. Olaf Brinkmann
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Dr. Ines Hasenbein
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Christina Braun
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Dr. Elke Kunisch
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Victoria Horbert
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Francesca Gunnella
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Dr. Andre Sachse
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Dr. Sabine Bischoff
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Dr. Harald Schubert
    Jena University Hospital, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Klaus Jandt
    Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Dr. Joerg Bossert
    Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
  • Dr. Matthias Bungartz
    Jena University Hospital, Germany