The effect of severe ascorbic acid deficiency on bone remodeling and collagen synthesis was evaluated in a 21 day experiment, using the scorbutic guinea pig model. Animals (n = 6-7/group) were assigned to one of three groups: scorbutic, pair-fed ascorbic acid-replete, or ad libitum ascorbic acid-replete groups. After 2 weeks, scorbutic animals started voluntarily decreasing food intake and losing weight. By day 19-21, at which time bone and tissue samples were collected and analyzed, scorbutic animals decreased food intake to 46% of usual and lost 9% body weight. Serum 25OHD3, 1,25(OH)2D3, calcium, and albumin were significantly lower (p <0.05) in the scorbutic animals than in the other groups. Bone mineral density and bone mineral content of the proximal and central femur were significantly lower in the scorbutic group than in the other groups (p <0.05). Morphometric analysis of tibia indicated significantly lower bone volume, fewer and thinner trabeculae, and a thinner growth plate in the scorbutic group, compared to the pair-fed and ad libitum groups (p <0.05). Osteoclast surface was about 60% higher in the scorbutic group than in the pair-fed and ad libitum control groups (0.05 <p <0.10). Mechanical strength of the femur and lumbar vertebral body tended to be lower when bone mass was altered in the same group. Collagen synthesis of articular cartilage and tendons was lower in the scorbutic group than in the pair-fed or ad libitum groups (p <0.05). In conclusion, scurvy but not food restriction, per se, results in alterations in bone mass and tissue collagen synthesis.
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