Phenytoin-induced bone loss and its prevention with alfacalcidol or calcitriol in growing rats

K. Onodera, A. Takahashi, H. Mayanagi, H. Wakabayashi, J. Kamei, H. Shinoda

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Studies were carried out to determine the effects and mechanism of action of phenytoin on the bone metabolism in male rats. Administration of phenytoin, 20 mg/kg/ day for 5 weeks, did not affect the growth curve. Biochemical data indicated that the serum osteocalcin, a marker of bone formation, was decreased significantly but there were no significant differences in the levels of serum calcium, pyridinoline, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHD) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the phenytoin-treated group compared with the vehicle-treated group. The values of bone mineral density (BMD) were decreased in all regions of bones tested (mandibular head, tibial metaphysis, tibial diaphysis, femoral metaphysis, and femoral diaphysis) in the phenytoin-treated group. In histomorphometric analysis, phenytoin decreased trabecular bone volume and trabecular thickness, and increased osteoclast numbers per area of bone surface in the secondary trabecular bone of the tibia. Additionally, there was no significant difference in osteoid thickness. Combined administration of either alfacalcidol or calcitriol with phenytoin for 5 weeks prevented the reduction of BMD induced by phenytoin. From these findings, it is unlikely that toxic effects on the growth curve caused the decreased BMD induced by phenytoin. It is also evident that repeated administration of phenytoin may cause osteopenia which may be due to bone loss by inhibiting bone formation and/or by accelerating bone resorption rather than osteoid accumulation. The bone loss is not rachitic because of the lack of increase in osteoid thickness. Moreover, combined administration of alfacalcidol or calcitriol with phenytoin showed a preventative effect against bone loss. The bone loss induced by phenytoin in this study may be a convenient model for further research into the problem of drug-induced osteopenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Alfacalcidol
  • Bone mineral density
  • Osteocalcin
  • Osteopenia
  • Phenytoin


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