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Bone., 2009; 44(2): 214-24, PMID: 19022418

Recovery of muscle atrophy and bone loss from 90 days bed rest: results from a one-year follow-up

Year: 2009

Rittweger J, Felsenberg D
Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK.


Earlier studies found the recovery of bone loss after clinical immobilization to be incomplete. It has been argued that this is due to the human skeleton"s inability to accrue bone mass once peak bone mass has been attained. However, recent studies suggest that bone losses can fully recover when complete functional rehabilitation is achieved. Accordingly, we hypothesized that bone losses by experimental bed rest would recover within one-year of follow-up. Twenty-five men (mean age 32 years, SD 4.2) were randomly assigned to either bed rest only (Ctrl), resistive flywheel exercise (FW), or to a group receiving 60 mg. i.v pamidronate prior to bed rest (Pam). Calf muscle cross sectional area and bone mineral content of the tibia was measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Calcium, PTH and alkaline phosphatase blood levels were assessed along with urinary desoxypyridinoline excretion. Physical activity was assessed by the Freiburg questionnaire. In Pam and FW, diaphyseal bone losses were completely recovered at a 180-day follow-up, and there was even a small surplus after 1 year (p=0.016). Epiphyseal bone losses were largely, although not completely recovered after 1 year, when they still amounted to -0.6% (SD 1.3%, p=0.034, averaged over all groups). Bone formation and resorption markers had returned to baseline values at this time. However, epiphyseal recovery may still have been on-going, and fitting an exponential model yielded full recovery of the epiphysis within 2 years. Importantly, recovery of calf muscle cross-section and resumption of impact sport activities seemed to precede bone recovery, and bone accrual was closely matching the prior losses on an individual basis. No relationship was found between the epiphyseal BMC deficit at one-year follow-up and the participants" age. Results demonstrate recovery of bed rest induced bone losses in healthy adults. The initial re-accrual rate was remarkably high and is comparable to the accrual of bone mass during the pubertal growth spurt. This and the fact that the recovery of bone appeared to be tightly regulated, and generally followed neuromuscular recovery underline the adult skeleton"s capability to adapt to mechanical stimuli.

Keywords: BedRest
GID: 1734; Last update: 16.03.2009