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Osteoporosis in experimental postmenopausal polyarthritis: the relative contributions of estrogen deficiency and inflammation

Caroline Jochems1*, Ulrika Islander1, Malin Erlandsson1, Margareta Verdrengh1, Claes Ohlsson2 and Hans Carlsten1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg, Sweden

2 Center for Bone Research at the Sahlgrenska Academy (CBS), Göteborg, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R837-R843  doi:10.1186/ar1753

Published: 27 April 2005


Generalized osteoporosis in postmenopausal rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused both by estrogen deficiency and by the inflammatory disease. The relative importance of each of these factors is unknown. The aim of this study was to establish a murine model of osteoporosis in postmenopausal RA, and to evaluate the relative importance and mechanisms of menopause and arthritis-related osteoporosis. To mimic postmenopausal RA, DBA/1 mice were ovariectomized, followed by the induction of type II collagen-induced arthritis. After the mice had been killed, paws were collected for histology, one femur for bone mineral density (BMD) and sera for analyses of markers of bone resorption (RatLaps; type I collagen cross-links, bone formation (osteocalcin) and cartilage destruction (cartilage oligomeric matrix protein), and for the evaluation of antigen-specific and innate immune responsiveness. Ovariectomized mice displayed more severe arthritis than sham-operated controls. At termination of the experiment, arthritic control mice and non-arthritic ovariectomized mice displayed trabecular bone losses of 26% and 22%, respectively. Ovariectomized mice with arthritis had as much as 58% decrease in trabecular BMD. Interestingly, cortical BMD was decreased by arthritis but was not affected by hormonal status. In addition, markers of bone resorption and cartilage destruction were increased in arthritic mice, whereas markers of bone formation were increased in ovariectomized mice. This study demonstrates that the loss of endogenous estrogen and inflammation contribute additively and equally to osteoporosis in experimental postmenopausal polyarthritis. Markers of bone remodeling and bone marrow lymphocyte phenotypes indicate different mechanisms for the development of osteoporosis caused by ovariectomy and arthritis in this model.