Kruger, M. C., Morel, P. C. H. 2016. Experimental control for the ovariectomized rat model: Use of sham versus nonmanipulated animal. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 19(1), 73-80.
One of 2 models required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for registration of a treatment for osteoporosis, the ovariectomized (OVX) rat model, is widely used in scientific studies investigating sex hormone-deficient bone loss. The use of control nonhuman animals is critical because bone turnover may be affected by animal stress, use of anesthetic, and the mechanisms involved in wound healing. Historically, researchers have used sham-operated animals who undergo the same manipulations as the OVX rats, but ethical concerns require consideration of unmanipulated (unoperated) control animals to minimize animal distress and unnecessary procedures. Herein, we report the results of 3 studies including OVX, sham, and unmanipulated rats and the effects on bone mineral density and content (BMD/BMC) during 2 to 6 months postsurgery. Our data indicate that while OVX animals generally had lower BMD and BMC than animals in either of the control groups, no differences were observed between sham and unmanipulated animals at any of the time points assessed. However, because bone turnover is a long-term process, studies with longer duration and multiple endpoints are warranted to confirm these results.