Inhibition of bone repair in a rat model for chronic and excessive alcohol consumption

Dennis A. Chakkalakal, Jerzy R. Novak, Edward D. Fritz, Teresa J. Mollner, Daniel L. McVicker, Kevin L. Garvin, Michael H. McGuire, Terrence M. Donohue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Alcohol abuse is associated with increases in both the incidence of fractures and complications in fracture healing. The purpose of this study was to determine the dose-dependent effects of ethanol on bone repair in a rat model. Three-month-old male Wistar rats were continuously fed liquid diets containing ethanol as either 36% or 26% of total calories or control diets for 6 weeks. Then, a bone repair model was created in all rats. Bone healing and liver metabolism were evaluated 7 weeks after bone injury. For each dose, there were three ethanol-feeding groups receiving (1) ethanol for 13 weeks, (2) control diet for 13 weeks (pair-fed), and (3) ethanol before bone injury and control diet (pair-fed) after injury. Another group was fed ethanol (36%) before injury and given control diet ad libitum after injury. There were also two nutritional controls consuming control diet and standard rat chow ad libitum for 13 weeks. Abnormal liver metabolism was evident at the higher ethanol dose - increases in cytochrome P4502E1 specific activity (5-fold; P < .01), triglyceride content (4-fold; P < .02), and liver weight (25%; P = .05) - compared with pair-fed controls. The higher dose of ethanol resulted in deficient bone repair when compared with rats receiving ethanol-free control diet by pair-feeding: 26% less (P = .02) rigidity of the repaired bone, 41% less (P = .02) intrinsic stiffness, 24% less intrinsic strength (P = .05), and 14% less (P = .001) ash density of the repair tissue. The reduced food consumption of ethanol-fed rats compared with that in the nutritional controls did not contribute to this deficiency. Furthermore, removal of ethanol (as 36% of calories) from the diet after bone injury completely restored normal bone healing and nearly normalized the liver metabolism. The lower ethanol dose (26% of calories) had a minimal effect on liver metabolism and bone repair. We conclude that ethanol (as 36% of calories) in the rat diet, especially during the postinjury period, was solely responsible for the observed inhibition of bone repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-214
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Alcohol abuse
  • Bone stiffness and strength
  • Dose dependence
  • Fracture healing
  • Liver metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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