Scanning Microscopy


Changes in vertebral bone mineral content and density during aging were quantified in female Wistar rats. This study represents a longitudinal follow up utilizing single photon absorptiometry for the measurement of bone mineral content (BMC), quantitative computed tomography (OCT) for the measurement of bone mineral density (BMD), and image analysis histomorphometry for the measurement of trabecular bone volume (TBV) and bone cortical area (BCA). The above measurements were accompanied by biochemical assays of calcium concentrations in the respective bones. All aging animals experienced significant decreases in BMC, BMD, TBV, BCA and in the calcium content of their bones. The above features have been further emphasized through the use of scanning electron micrographs showing the age-related structural changes in a three-dimentional fashion. New, advanced technologies will enable the quantitation of 3-dimensional images that are currently obtained from the scanning electron micrograph; thus will provide new consideration as related to trabecular bone compactness (density). Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy indicated that the nature of crystals in aging bones does not differ markedly from that encountered in young specimens. Data are also provided with regard to the health of the animals, and it became apparent that aging rats undergo changes in their kidneys yet do not show any significant change in renal functional parameters as measured in both the serum and the urine. Hence, new noninvasive methodologies are currently available for longitudinal studies related to the skeleton in laboratory animals enabling reliable monitoring of age-related and hormonally induced changes in bones (spine and hip) of well defined experimental models.

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