We characterized appendicular and axial bones in rats with type-2 diabetes in five female Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats, a strain developed from the Wistar rat showing spontaneous type-2 diabetes, and five age- and sex-matched non-diabetic Wistar rats. The humerus, tibia, metatarsals and vertebral bodies were analysed by peripheral quantitative computerized tomography (pQCT). In diabetic rats, the height of the vertebral bodies and length of the humerus were decreased while the length of the metatarsals was increased. A decreased cross-sectional area was found in the vertebral end-plate region and the tibial metaphysis. Notably, the diaphysis in all long bones showed expansion of periosteal and endosteal circumference. In tibia this resulted in increased cortical thickness, whereas in humerus and metatarsal it was unchanged. Areal moment of inertia was increased in all diaphyses suggesting greater bending strength. The most conspicuous finding in diabetic rats pertained to trabecular osteopenia. Thus, trabecular bone mineral density was significantly reduced in all bones examined, by 33-53%. Our pQCT study of axial and appendicular bones suggests that the typical feature of diabetic osteopathy in the GK rat is loss of trabecular bone and expansion of the diaphysis. The loss of metaphyseal trabecular bone if also present in diabetic patients may prove to underlie the susceptibility to periarticular fracture and Charcot arthropathy. The findings suggest that the risk of fracture in diabetes varies according to the specific sub-regions of a bone. The approach described may prove to be useful in the early detection of osteopathy in diabetic patients who may be amenable to preventive treatment.
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