Although hormone replacement therapy can prevent postmenopausal bone loss, it does not restore bone mass to normal in patients with established osteoporosis. This might reflect a failure to reproduce certain aspects of gonadal function. One method of investigating this possibility would be to examine the effect of ovarian transplantation on the skeleton of osteopaenic ovariectomized rats. However, ovarian transplantation may not fully restore ovarian function to normal, and it is not known whether transplanted ovaries reproduce the action of native ovaries on the skeleton. Therefore, we investigated whether renal capsular or subcutaneous ovarian transplants prevent the effects of ovariectomy on histomorphometric indices of rat tibiae over 44 days. Daily vaginal smears showed that oestrous cycles returned in all but two of 25 animals receiving ovarian transplants. We found that ovarian transplantation prevented the reduction in cancellous bone volume following ovariectomy. While trabecular number was reduced in ovariectomized animals receiving renal capsular ovarian transplants compared to intact animals, trabecular thickness was increased in both transplant groups. Ovarian transplantation also prevented the increase in cancellous and cortical bone formation, cancellous bone resorption and longitudinal growth rate caused by ovariectomy. We conclude that restoration of ovarian function by ovarian transplantation largely prevents the effects of ovariectomy on histomorphometric indices of rat tibiae, suggesting that transplanted ovaries can substitute for the action of native ovaries on the skeleton.
Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 142, 187–192