In vivo NMR microscopy allows short-term serial assessment of multiple skeletal implications of corticosteroid exposure

Masaya Takahashi, Felix W. Wehrli, Luna Hilaire, Babette S. Zemel, Scott N. Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Corticosteroids are in widespread clinical use but are known to have adverse skeletal side effects. Moreover, it is not known how soon these effects become apparent. Here, we describe a longitudinal approach to evaluate the short-term implications of excess corticosteroid exposure by quantitative in vivo magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy in conjunction with digital image processing and analysis in a rabbit model. Two-week treatment with dexamethasone induced a significant reduction in trabecular bone volume, which occurred at the expense of uniform trabecular thinning without affecting network architecture. Paralleling the loss in bone volume was conversion of hematopoietic to yellow marrow in the femoral metaphysis and atrophy of the femoral epiphyseal growth plate. This work demonstrates that detailed quantitative morphometric and physiological information can be obtained noninvasively at multiple skeletal locations. The method is likely to eventually replace invasive histomorphometry in that it obviates the need to sacrifice groups of animals at multiple time points. Finally, this work, which was performed on a clinical scanner, has implications for evaluating patients on high-dose steroid treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4574-4579
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this