Development and reversibility of aluminum-induced bone lesion in the rat

S. M. Ott, E. Feist, D. L. Andress, C. C. Liu, D. J. Sherrard, A. C. Alfrey, E. Slatopolsky, G. A. Howard

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16 Scopus citations


We studied the effect of aluminum injections on bones of rats after intervals of 3, 6 and 9 weeks. To study reversibility, we allowed one group to recover for 3 weeks. Both weanling and adult rats were examined to determine the influence of age. The calcium, phosphate, creatinine, and parathyroid hormone levels were similar in aluminum-treated rats and controls. Aluminum could be seen by histochemical stain after 6 weeks, but at that time the bone was otherwise normal. By 9 weeks the bone formation (as measured by tetracycline labeling) in aluminum-treated rats was severely decreased on trabecular and endosteal surfaces. The periosteal surfaces showed normal formation. After 3 weeks of recovery, the bone formation rate in the young aluminum-treated rats was similar to that in the controls, although the serum and bone aluminum values had not significantly decreased. A higher percentage of aluminum was seen in the cement lines. In the adult rats, the bones had more stainable aluminum, and increased osteoid was noted along trabecular and periosteal surfaces. The doses of aluminum used in these rats greatly exceeded those that cause toxicity in humans; thus these findings may not directly apply to clinical practice. We conclude that aluminum administration can lead to decreased rates of bone formation in the rat, despite normal calcium level and renal function, and without decreased parathyroid hormone levels. The peritoneal route of administration could also have contributed to bone lesions by causing peritonitis, malabsorption, or both. Adult rats showed signs of early osteomalacia. Aluminum accumulates in the bone before the bone formation rate decreases. The abnormalities are not seen on the periosteal surfaces, suggesting that local factors may play a role in aluminum toxicity. The lesion is reversible when aluminum loading ceases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 17 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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