Alcohol consumption inhibits bone growth and development in young actively growing rats

H. Wayne Sampson, Nancy Perks, Thomas H. Champney, Buren DeFee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Adolescence is an age of widespread alcohol abuse, but the effect of alcohol consumption on bone formation has not been studied in the young population. This study addresses the effect of alcohol on the early phases of bone growth and development in an animal model. Four-week-old, female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups. Alcohol-treated animals were fed a modified Lieber-DeCarli diet ad libitum containing 35% ethanol- derived calories, whereas the pair-fed animals (weight-matched to ethanol rats) received an isocaloric liquid diet in which maltose-dextrin substituted calories supplied by ethanol. Chow animals were fed a standard rat chow ad libitum. Proximal tibiae (primarily cancellous bone) and femora (primarily cortical bone) were removed for analysis after 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks on the diets. Serum was collected for analysis of calcium levels, osteocalcin, corticosterone, growth hormone, parathyroid hormone, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The most rapid weight gain occurred between 6 and 8 weeks of age, and it was significantly delayed in alcohol and pair-fed animals. Almost all morphological parameters of bone were lower in the alcohol groups. No significant difference in serum calcium levels, osteocalcin, or growth hormone levels were found, and small difference in calciotropic hormone levels was found between groups. The results indicate that chronic alcohol consumption during the age of bone development reduces bone density and peak bone mass in both cortical and cancellous bone. The mechanism whereby this effect occurs is not fully understood, but, our results suggest that the negative impact of alcohol on growing bone is not due to the secondary effects of altered bone mineral regulating hormones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1384
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol
  • Bone
  • Osteopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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