Nitrergic and opioidergic systems affect radiographic density and histomorphometric indices in bile-duct-ligated cirrhotic rats.
The pathophysiology of hepatic osteodystrophy (HO) remains poorly understood. Our aim was to evaluate bone histomorphometry, biomechanical properties, and the role of the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) system in the onset of this disorder. Forty-six male Wistar rats were divided into two groups: sham-operated (SO, n = 23) and bile duct–ligated (BDL, n = 23). Rats were killed on day 30 postoperatively. Immunohistochemical expression of IGF-I and GH receptor was determined in liver tissue and in the proximal growth plate cartilage of the left tibia. Histomorphometric analysis was performed in the right tibia, and the right femur was used for biomechanical analysis. The maximal force at fracture and the stiffness of the mid-shaft femur were, respectively, 53% and 24% lower in BDL compared to SO. Histomorphometric measurements showed low cancellous bone volume and decreased cancellous bone connectivity in BDL, compatible with osteoporosis. This group also showed increased mineralization lag time, indicating disturbance in bone mineralization. Serum levels of IGF-I were lower in BDL (basal 1,816 ± 336 vs. 30 days 1,062 ± 191 ng/ml, P < 0.0001). BDL also showed higher IGF-I expression in the liver tissue but lower IGF-I and GH receptor expression in growth plate cartilage than SO. Osteoporosis is the most important feature of HO; BDL rats show striking signs of reduced bone volume and decreased bone strength, as early as after 1 month of cholestasis. The endocrine and autocrine–paracrine IGF-I systems are deeply affected by cholestasis. Further studies will be necessary to establish their role in the pathogenesis of HO.