The effects of aluminum exposure on bone formation employing the demineralized bone matrix (DBM) induced bone development model were studied using 4-week-old Sprague-Dawley rats injected with a saline (control) or an aluminum chloride (experimental) solution. After 2 weeks of aluminum treatment, 20-mg portions of rat DBM were implanted subcutaneously on each side in the thoracic region of the control and experimental rats. Animals were killed 7, 12, or 21 days after implantation of the DBM and the developing plaques removed. No morphological, histochemical, or biochemical differences were apparent between plaques from day 7 control and experimental rats. Plaques from day 12 control and experimental rats exhibited cartilage formation and alkaline phosphatase activity localized in osteochondrogenic cells, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, and extracellular matrix. Unlike the plaques from control rats that contained many osteoblastic mineralizing fronts, the plaques from the 12-day experimental group had a preponderance of cartilaginous tissue, no evidence of mineralization, increased levels of alkaline phosphatase activity, and a reduced calcium content. Plaques developing for 21 days in control animals demonstrated extensive new bone formation and bone marrow development, while those in the experimental rats demonstrated unmineralized osteoid-like matrix with poorly developed bone marrow. Alkaline phosphatase activity of the plaques continued to remain high on day 21 for the control and experimental groups. Calcium levels were significantly reduced in the experimental group. These biochemical changes correlated with histochemical reductions in bone calcification. Thus, aluminum administration to rats appears to alter the differentiation and calcification of developing cartilage and bone in the DBM-induced bone formation model and suggests that aluminum by some mechanism alters the matrix calcification in growing bones.
- Bone formation