Quantification of bone mineral density to define osteoporosis in rat

M. Srivastava, S. K. Mandal, S. Sengupta, M. Arshad, M. M. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diagnosis of osteoporosis centers on assessment of bone mass and quality. In the absence of evidence-based guidelines to assess bone status in laboratory animals and unsuitability of use of T-/Z-scores meant for clinical application in animal studies, most investigators involved in new drug research and development employ clinical biomarkers and kits to assess bone turnover rate and portray change in bone mineral density (BMD) as percentage of increase/decrease, making comparative assessment of the effect highly impractical. This study proposes threshold boundaries of BMD (rT-score) in colony-bred Sprague-Dawley rats, distinct from those used clinically. Boundaries were obtained keeping fixed Type-I error (α=0.025). Femur neck was considered best for defining bone status using BMD measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Findings demonstrate that BMD≤-1.96 rT-score signifies osteoporosis and BMD between >-1.96 and <-0.80 rT-score as osteopenia. Performance of boundaries to ascertain bone status was examined through simulation under different physiological/hormonal states viz. estrogen deficiency, ageing, estrus cycle, pregnancy, and lactation. The Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve of 0.98 obtained using BIVID of femur neck, being close to unity, shows excellent ability of the proposed rT-score to effectively identify osteoporosis. Further studies using certain hierarchical measures of bone quality such as histomorphometry, mechanical testing etc. could supplement these findings. Since, unlike humans, most laboratory animals including rats only exhibit osteopenia and do not fracture their bones, the proposed thresholds are intended to serve as categorical tools to define bone quality and not to predict fracture risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors thank Mr. Manoj Dubey, Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow for BMD measurements and learned referees whose suggestions have improved the quality of the paper. One of us (MMS) thanks the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi for appointment as Emeritus Medical Scientist. This study received financial support from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. CDRI communication no. 6549.


  • BMD
  • Osteopenia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rat
  • Threshold boundaries


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