Testosterone dose dependently prevents bone and muscle loss in rodents after spinal cord injury

Joshua F Yarrow, Christine F Conover, Luke A Beggs, Darren T Beck, Dana M Otzel, Alexander Balaez, Sarah M Combs, Julie R Miller, Fan Ye, J Ignacio Aguirre, Kathleen G Neuville, Alyssa A Williams, Bryan P Conrad, Chris M Gregory, Thomas J Wronski, Prodip K Bose, Stephen E Borst
Journal of Neurotrauma 2014 May 1, 31 (9): 834-45
Androgen administration protects against musculoskeletal deficits in models of sex-steroid deficiency and injury/disuse. It remains unknown, however, whether testosterone prevents bone loss accompanying spinal cord injury (SCI), a condition that results in a near universal occurrence of osteoporosis. Our primary purpose was to determine whether testosterone-enanthate (TE) attenuates hindlimb bone loss in a rodent moderate/severe contusion SCI model. Forty (n=10/group), 14 week old male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to receive: (1) Sham surgery (T9 laminectomy), (2) moderate/severe (250 kdyne) SCI, (3) SCI+Low-dose TE (2.0 mg/week), or (4) SCI+High-dose TE (7.0 mg/week). Twenty-one days post-injury, SCI animals exhibited a 77-85% reduction in hindlimb cancellous bone volume at the distal femur (measured via μCT) and proximal tibia (measured via histomorphometry), characterized by a >70% reduction in trabecular number, 13-27% reduction in trabecular thickness, and increased trabecular separation. A 57% reduction in cancellous volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) at the distal femur and a 20% reduction in vBMD at the femoral neck were also observed. TE dose dependently prevented hindlimb bone loss after SCI, with high-dose TE fully preserving cancellous bone structural characteristics and vBMD at all skeletal sites examined. Animals receiving SCI also exhibited a 35% reduction in hindlimb weight bearing (triceps surae) muscle mass and a 22% reduction in sublesional non-weight bearing (levator ani/bulbocavernosus [LABC]) muscle mass, and reduced prostate mass. Both TE doses fully preserved LABC mass, while only high-dose TE ameliorated hindlimb muscle losses. TE also dose dependently increased prostate mass. Our findings provide the first evidence indicating that high-dose TE fully prevents hindlimb cancellous bone loss and concomitantly ameliorates muscle loss after SCI, while low-dose TE produces much less profound musculoskeletal benefit. Testosterone-induced prostate enlargement, however, represents a potential barrier to the clinical implementation of high-dose TE as a means of preserving musculoskeletal tissue after SCI.

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