During the course of chronic renal failure (CRF) in man, renal osteodystrophy (osteitis fibrosa and/or osteomalacia) gradually develops. The present study aimed to establish a similar type of CRF leading to renal osteodystrophy in rats.

During progressive CRF development over 225 days after 5/6 nephrectomy, the following serum variables were measured: creatinine, immunoreactive parathryoid hormone (iPTH), 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), a25-hydroxyvitamin D3, (25(OH)D3), alkaline phosphatase, albumin, phosphate, urea nitrogen, total calcium, and other blood electrolytes. Subsequent to sacrifice, mechanical properties of the rat femur, bone histomorphometry (osteoid and eroded surfaces) and bone contents of calcium, phosphate and hydroxyproline were also examined.

Serum creatinine in rats with CRF gradually escalated by some 70%, while circulating 1,25(OH)2D3 was reduced beneath detection level. Total plasma calcium and phosphate concentrations were, however, almost unchanged indicating that PTH-induced bone remodeling due to moderate hyperparathyroidism sustained calcium homeostasis. Alkaline phosphatase levels were reduced by some 50%, which reflects chronically impeded bone formation. Bone histomorphometry assessment revealed substantial elevation of resorption with moderate accompanying fibrosis in about 70% of afflicted animals. Bone calcium, phosphate and hydroxpyroline contents remained unaltered. However, hydroxoproline/calcium ratio was marginally reduced. These results, together with altered mechanical bending stress characteristics and diminished diaphysis cross section area, confirm development of mixed bone lesions in the uremic animals.

Our results are compatible with the early development of CRF in man. The established rat model is therefore useful in elucidating the precipitation and early treatment of renal osteodystrophy in humans.

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