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Affected skeletal growth but normal bone mineralization in rat offspring after prenatal dexamethasone exposure.

Journal article
Authors Diana Swolin-Eide
Jovanna Dahlgren
C L Nilsson
Kerstin Albertsson-Wikland
Agneta Holmäng
Claes Ohlsson
Published in The Journal of endocrinology
Volume 174
Issue 3
Pages 411-8
ISSN 0022-0795
Publication year 2002
Published at Cardiovascular Institute
Institute of Physiology and Pharmacology, Dept of Pharmacology
Institute of Internal Medicine, Dept of Medicine
Institute for the Health of Women and Children, Dept of Paediatrics
Pages 411-8
Language en
Keywords Absorptiometry, Photon, Animals, Bone Density, drug effects, Bone Development, drug effects, Dexamethasone, adverse effects, Female, Femur, drug effects, growth & development, physiology, Gestational Age, Glucocorticoids, adverse effects, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Random Allocation, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Sex, Tibia, drug effects, growth & development, physiology, Tomography, X-Ray Computed
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


Events occurring early in life or prenatally are able to play important roles in the pathogenesis of diseases in adult life. Different sorts of stress or hormonal influences, during particular periods of pregnancy, may result in persisting or transient changes in physiology. Glucocorticoids are used for the treatment of a variety of diseases, to promote organ maturation and to prevent preterm delivery. Glucocorticoids are also known to affect skeletal growth and adult bone metabolism. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether exposure to dexamethasone (Dex) during fetal life has any effect on skeletal growth and/or bone mineral density in adult rat offspring. Pregnant rats were given injections of either Dex (100 micro g/kg) or vehicle on days 9, 11 and 13 of gestation. Dex-exposed male but not female rat offspring showed transient increases in crown-rump length and tibia and femur lengths at 3-6 weeks of age. In contrast, the cortical bone dimensions were altered in 12-week-old female but not male Dex-exposed offspring. The areal bone mineral densities of the long bones and the spine, as determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry, and trabecular as well as cortical volumetric bone mineral density, as measured using peripheral quantitative computerized tomography, were unchanged in both male and female Dex-exposed offspring. In conclusion, prenatal Dex exposure affects skeletal growth in a gender-specific manner, while the mineralization of bones is unaffected in both male and female offspring.

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