The timing of the pubertal growth is a critical event in skeletal development. A delay in the onset of puberty has been correlated with increased stress fracture incidence in young women and as a result, suboptimal skeletal development may affect long-term bone strength. Gonadotropin releasing hormone antagonist (GnRH-a) injections were used to delay the onset of puberty in growing female rats. 23-day-old female rats were injected with a GnRH-antagonist at 2 dosage levels (n = 15/group). The Low Dose group (1.25 mg/kg/dose) received daily injections for 27 days (sacrifice 49 days). The High Dose group received (5.0 mg/kg/dose) only 5 days per week over a 26 day period (sacrifice 48 days). Calcein injections measured bone formation activity on the periosteal and endocortical surfaces. Standard histomorphometric and biomechanical analyses were performed on the femora and ash content was measured on the tibiae of all animals. Serum estradiol and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 levels were assayed. Significant delays in pubertal development occurred in the two GnRH-a groups as evidenced by delayed vaginal openings, decreased uterine and ovarian weights and suppressed estradiol levels compared to control. Femoral lengths were significantly shorter in the experimental groups and serum IGF-1 levels were higher than control. Bone strength and stiffness were significantly lower in the GnRH-a groups. Cortical bone area was decreased and total area was not different between groups. There was a significant decrease in % Ct.Ar/T.Ar. The decreased bone strength may have resulted from a decrease in the amount and distribution of bone, however, stress and Young's modulus were also decreased. There was a different response between endocortical formation indices and periosteal formation indices to the GnRH-a protocol. Endocortical bone formation rates decreased and there was an increase in periosteal labeled surface. A dose response between bone strength and GnRH-a dosage was found. The data suggest that hypothalamic suppression during pubertal development resulted in decreased bone strength which may result in fracture development. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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