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The effects of chronic alcohol consumption and exercise on the skeleton of adult male ratsBACKGROUND: Lifestyle factors are known to affect skeletal development and integrity. Specifically, running has been reported to increase risk of fatigue fractures, whereas chronic alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce bone formation and bone mass. The combined effect of exercise and alcohol on the skeleton has yet to be explored, although alcohol consumption is common among certain physically active populations (e.g., military recruits, college athletes). It was hypothesized that chronic alcohol consumption would accentuate the inherent risk associated with endurance running exercise. METHODS: Six-month-old male Sprague Dawley rats were assigned to one of five groups: baseline, exercise-alcohol diet, exercise-normal diet, sham-alcohol diet, and sham-normal diet. Alcohol-fed rats (35% caloric intake) received a liquid diet ad libitum. Normal animals were pair-fed the identical diet with a maltose dextrin caloric substitute. Exercise was conducted on a motorized treadmill 5 days/wk for 16 weeks. Sham rats were placed on a stationary treadmill for matching time periods. Fluorochrome labels were administered 3 days before baseline and at 10 and 2 days before animals were killed. Heart, soleus, and rectus femoris muscles were wet weighed to assess the effects of training. Tibiae were collected for static and dynamic histomorphometric measurements on cancellous and cortical bone. RESULTS: Muscle weights were larger in the exercised rats versus the sham rats. Alcohol had no significant effect on skeletal muscle weight but did result in larger heart weights in both alcohol-treated groups. Cancellous and periosteal bone formation rates were significantly decreased in the alcohol-fed rats versus rats on the normal diet and were associated with a significant reduction in trabecular thickness in the tibial metaphysis. Cortical and cross-sectional areas were also significantly lower in the alcohol-fed groups compared with the non-alcohol-fed groups. Exercise had no significant effect on cancellous or cortical bone measurements. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic alcohol consumption significantly reduced bone formation. Exercise had no effect on the bone and did not attenuate any of the negative effects of alcohol. The results suggest that alcohol consumption weakens the skeleton and increases the incidence of endurance-exercise-related bone injuries. Thus, individuals who are participating in endurance exercise and consuming alcohol may be at greater risk for exercise-related skeletal injuries. Further investigation of the potential for alcohol to induce detrimental effects on the hearts of individuals participating in endurance exercise is indicated.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Reed, Adam H.
(AMC Cancer Research Center 1600 Pierce Street, Denver, CO 80214, United States)
McCarty, Heidi L.
Evans, Glenda L.
Turner, Russell T.
Westerlind, Kim C.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2002
Publication Information
Publication: Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research
Volume: 26
Issue: 8
ISSN: 0145-6008
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Cell Biology
Non-NASA Center

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