Effects of nicotine on bone mass, turnover, and strength in adult female rats

U. T. Iwaniec, Y. K. Fung, M. P. Akhter, M. C. Haven, S. Nespor, G. R. Haynatzki, D. M. Cullen

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36 Scopus citations


This study investigated the effects of nicotine, the chemical responsible for tobacco addiction, on bone and on serum mineral and calcitropic hormone levels in adult, female rats to help resolve a current controversy regarding the impact of nicotine on bone health. Seven-month-old rats received either saline (n = 12), low-dose nicotine (4.5 mg/kg/day, n = 2), or high-dose nicotine (6.0 mg/kg/day, n = 12) administered subcutaneously via osmotic minipumps for 3 months. Blood, femora, tibiae, and lumbar vertebrae (3-5) were collected at necropsy for determination of serum mineral and hormonal concentrations, bone density (femora and vertebrae), bone turnover (tibiae), and bone strength (femora). The presence of nicotine in serum (111 ± 7 and 137 ± 10 ng/ml for the low- and high-dose nicotine groups, respectively) confirmed successful delivery of the drug via osmotic minipumps. Nicotine-induced treatment differences were not detected in serum calcium, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. However, serum phosphorus and parathyroid hormone (PTH) were higher in rats treated with high-dose nicotine, and serum calcitonin was lower in rats treated with both high- and low-dose nicotine than in control rats. Nicotine treatment had no effect on tibial cancellous or cortical bone turnover or femoral bone mineral content (BMC) and density (BMD). Femoral ultimate load and vertebral BMC were lower in rats treated with high-dose nicotine than in control rats. We conclude that nicotine at serum concentrations 2.5-fold greater than the average in smokers has limited detrimental effects on bone in normal, healthy female rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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