Pablo Gallo Soljancic1, Lorena Cuenca Bermejo1, Ana María González Cuello2, CONSUELO SANCHEZ RODRIGO3, Emiliano Fernández1, Maria Trinidad Herrero Ezquerro1


(2) Universidad de Murcia, España (Región de Murcia)
(3) 021015764968, 30007, España (Región de Murcia)



In the present, the life expectancy of the population is continuously growing up. This means that a large part of the population is older (>65 years old), generating an increase in the age-related diseases. Among these pathologies, osteoporosis and sarcopenia have a greater impact both on the economy and on the people’s quality of life. Osteoporosis leads to a deterioration in the microarchitecture of bone, especially cortical bone, whereas sarcopenia leads to a reduction in skeletal muscle mass. Usually, affected individuals present with both diseases simultaneously and are diagnosed as a single disease called osteosarcopenia. Currently, there is no experimental model that develops both diseases naturally, thus allowing the study of the spontaneous appearance of these disorders and the effect of each on the progression of the other. The Octodon degus, a diurnal rodent native to Chile with an extended life span, has been described to naturally develop some human-like traits associated to aging.


A total of 96 O. degus were used in the study and all the experimental procedures were approved the Ethics Committee of the University of Murcia (project number: A13170102 / CEEA-OH AMP/MOD 103/2014 + 2018), which were divided in the 8 experimental groups according to their sex (male / female) and their age: 6 months old (juvenile), 1 year old (young), 4-5 years old (adult), and 6-7 years old (senile). Animals were subjected to computed tomography to study the effect of sex and age on the muscle and bone volumes. The images obtained were processed and analyzed to evaluate bone and muscle of the limbs (both the forelimbs and the hindlimbs). Once the region of interest was delimitated, the volume (cm3) of each one was calculated by applying the specific threshold values for each tissue: muscle, cortical bone, and trabecular bone. Data were statistically analyzed by the Two-Way ANOVA analysis followed by the Tukey’s multiple comparison test (differences were considered statistically significant when p value ≤ 0.05).


The results showed a statistically significant relationship between age and the decrease in muscle volume for both extremities in males and females (p<0.0001). We obtained a similar relationship for the cortical bone: statistically significant reduction in the hindlimbs within the aging process in males and females (p<0.0001). The senile group being the most affected in the reduction of muscle volume and cortical bone volume. In the comparison of the extremities, a increase in cortical bone volume in the hindlimbs vs forelimbs could be observed, this increase its stadistically significant in male (p<0.0001) and female (p<0.01) but only in juvenile and young group. Whereas a decrease in muscle volume and cortical bone volume in old and senile group could be observed in the hindlimbs vs forelimbs whit a stadistically significant in male (p<0.0001) and female (p<0.0001, p<0.01).


These findings suggest that the O. degus could be a possible experimental model for the natural development of osteosarcopenia. With the data obtained, it was possible to confirm the potential of O. degus for the development of osteosarcopenia, observing a gradual deterioration in tune with aging.


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