Histomorphometry and μCT scan analysis of osteoporosis in spayed female dogs
Background: Both humans and small animals suffer from similar metabolic and structural diseases that impact the musculoskeletal system; however, instead of studying animal disease in its own right, animals are more often used as models for research into various human ailments, such as osteoporosis. There are few studies indicating that animals may suffer from osteoporosis, which raises the question of why small animals, which we believe to be equally susceptible, receive so little attention. With this research, we hope to draw the attention of researchers to the fact that the examination of animals for this disease is just as important as the examination of humans; human osteoporosis research receives a great deal of attention, while animals and their health are neglected.
Aims: We aimed to analyze the bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and thickness of first (L1) and second (L2) lumbar vertebrae samples from five cadavers using histomorphometric analysis. In addition, we aimed to investigate one cadaver using microcomputed tomography (μCT) imaging.
Methods: The L1 and L2 vertebrae from five dog carcasses were used to evaluate the BV/TV and the trabecular thicknesses. We used precise sampling criteria, and also developed a methodological approach to the study of the vertebrae. Using semi-automated methods, we performed histomorphometric analysis and μCT data analysis.
Results: We used five dog cadavers in this research. During the histomorphometry study, we observed that the lowest L1 BV/TV ratio was 7.88% and the highest was 23.08%. The L2 vertebrae BV/TV ranged from 11.58% to 23.7%. The L1 and L2 lumbar trabeculae thicknesses were also measured. L1’s smallest trabecula was 17.34 microns and its largest was 31.88. The L2 vertebrae trabecula thickness was 18.76–30.75 microns. BV/TV and trabecular thickness were positively correlated (and vice versa). The two-tailed p value was less than 0.00001. This difference is statistically significant. After μCT analysis, we discovered regions in the vertebral body with low porosity; these cavities are usually filled with connective tissue. The bone tissue in these areas is more vulnerable, meaning fracture risk has increased.
Conclusions: Animals should not just be considered as models for osteoporosis in humans, but also as potential patients. A single test, such as histomorphometry, may not be sufficient; more advanced technology, such as μCT, is required, since it reveals the pores that make the vertebral column more brittle and susceptible to fracture.