Protective effect of low-dose risedronate against osteocyte apoptosis and bone loss in ovariectomized rats


Tingjun Ye, Peng Cao , Jin Qi, Qi Zhou, D. Sudhaker Rao, Shijing Qiu


Osteocyte apoptosis is the first reaction to estrogen depletion, thereby stimulating osteoclastic bone resorption resulting in bone loss. We investigated the effects of two different risedronate (RIS) doses (high and low) on osteocyte apoptosis, osteoclast activity and bone loss in ovariectomized rats. Forty rats with ovariectomy (OVX) and sham ovariectomy (SHAM) were divided into 4 groups: 1) SHAM rats treated with saline (SHAM); 2) OVX rats treated with saline (OVX); 3) OVX rats treated with low-dose RIS (OVX-LR, 0.08 μg/kg/day); 4) OVX rats treated with high-dose RIS (OVX-HR, 0.8 μg/kg/day). All animals were sacrificed 90 days after surgery for the examinations of osteocyte apoptosis by caspase-3 staining, osteoclast activity by TRAP staining and bone volume by micro-CT scanning in lumbar vertebral cancellous bone. Both low and high dose RIS significantly reduced caspase-3 positive osteocytes, empty lacunae and TRAP positive osteoclasts in OVX rats. Although the difference in caspase-3 positive osteocytes was not significant between the OVX-LR and OVX-HR groups, numerically these cells were significantly more prevalent in OVX-HR (not OVX-LR) group than in SHAM group. TRAP positive osteoclasts were significantly higher in OVX-LR group than in SHAM or OVX-HR group. There was no significant difference in bone volume among the OVX-LR, OVX-HR and SHAM groups, but lower in OVX group alone. However, significant increase in trabecular thickness only occurred in OVX-LR group. We conclude that both low and high dose RIS significantly inhibit osteocyte apoptosis and osteoclast activity in OVX rats, but the low-dose RIS has weaker effect on osteoclast activity. However, low-dose RIS preserves cancellous bone mass and microarchitecture as well as high-dose RIS after estrogen depletion.