Effects of ethanol on the ultrastructure of the hamster femur

  • Huayue Chen
  • D. Hayakawa
  • S. Emura
  • Y. Ozawa
  • H. Taguchi
  • R. Yano
  • S. Shoumura
Keywords: ethanol, femur, golden hamster, ultrastructure


Several previous studies have indicated that chronic ingestion of ethanol exerts harmful effects on bones. However, few data are available concerning the effects of ethanol on the ultrastructure of bone. To further elucidate the effects of ethanol on bone, we studied the morphology of femur in golden hamsters after long-term treatment with ethanol. Six-week-old male hamsters were divided into 4 groups. Ethanoltreated animals were given ethanol at a concentration of 7% with food and water freely available, whereas the pair-fed animals (weight-matched to ethanol hamsters) had tap water available as the only drinking fluid. The femur weight, blood ethanol and serum calcium concentrations were determined after 3 and 5 months. The bone mineral density (BMD) of the whole body was measured before and after the experiment. Femurs of both sides were dissected and processed for morphometric measurement, light microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. In the ethanoltreated hamsters, BMD of the whole body and the weight of femur tended to decrease when compared with those of the controls. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy showed that the trabecula in the dista1 end of the femur from ethanol-treated hamsters were thinner than those of the controls. We also observed the disrupted swollen mitochondria of the femoral osteoblasts and osteocytes in the ethanol-treated hamsters. No significant difference in serum calcium levels and femoral osteoclasts was found. These results indicate that long-term treatment with ethanol results in disruption of femoral osteoblasts and reduction of bone mass in trabecular bone.