BACKGROUND: States of chronic overnutrition and undernutrition are both associated with impaired bone health and increased fracture risk but there are no data on bone microarchitecture following short-term controlled nutritional challenges. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of our study was to evaluate the impact of short-term high-caloric feeding and fasting on bone microarchitecture. We hypothesized that both high-caloric feeding and fasting would have negative effects on microarchitecture. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We recruited 23 adult healthy subjects (13 males, 10 females, mean age 33.2 +/- 1.4 years, mean BMI 26.0 +/- 1.5 kg/m(2)). Subjects underwent an in-patient 10-day high-caloric visit (caloric intake with goal to achieve 7% weight gain), after which they went home to resume a normal diet for 13-18 days (stabilization period), and were then readmitted for a 10-day in-patient fasting stay (no caloric intake). All subjects underwent HRpQCT (XtremeCT, Scanco Medical AG, Bruttisellen, Switzerland) of the distal tibia and distal radius after each visit to assess volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), trabecular and cortical microarchitecture, and strength estimates. The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to perform within group comparisons. RESULTS: During the high-caloric period, there was a mean increase in weight by 6.3 + 1.7% (p < 0.0001). There were no significant changes in bone parameters in the distal tibia or distal radius (p > 0.05). During the stabilization period there was a significant reduction in weight by -2.7 + 1.9% (p < 0.0001) but no change in bone parameters (p > 0.05). During the fasting period there was a further reduction in weight by -8.8 + 1.2% (p < 0.0001). In the distal tibia, there was a significant increase in total and cortical vBMD, trabecular and cortical parameters as well as strength estimates (p < 0.05). In the distal radius there was an increase in total and trabecular vBMD (p < 0.05), while there were no changes in other microarchitecture parameters or strengths estimates. CONCLUSION: Short-term fasting after high-caloric feeding improves vBMD, bone microarchitecture and strength estimates of the distal tibia, while short-term high-caloric feeding does not change vBMD or microarchitecture. These results suggest that short-term fasting after high-caloric feeding in healthy individuals improves bone health and that these changes can be detected using HRpQCT in-vivo.
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