Differential effects of dabigatran and warfarin on bone volume and structure in rats with normal renal function

Maria Fusaro, Luca Dalle Carbonare, Adriana Dusso, Maria Vittoria Arcidiacono, Maria Teresa Valenti, Andrea Aghi, Sabina Pasho, Maurizio Gallieni

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Background Warfarin, a widely used anticoagulant, is a vitamin K antagonist impairing the activity of vitamin K-dependent Bone Gla Protein (BGP or Osteocalcin) and Matrix Gla Protein (MGP). Because dabigatran, a new anticoagulant, has no effect on vitamin K metabolism, the aim of this study was to compare the impact of warfarin and dabigatran administration on bone structure and vascular calcification. Methods Rats with normal renal function received for 6 weeks warfarin, dabigatran or placebo. Bone was evaluated immuno-histochemically and hystomorphometrically after double labelling with declomycin and calcein. Aorta and iliac arteries were examined histologically. Results Histomorphometric analysis of femur and vertebrae showed significantly decreased bone volume and increased trabecular separation in rats treated with warfarin. Vertebra analysis showed that the trabecular number was higher in dabigatran treated rats. Osteoblast activity and resorption parameters were similar among groups, except for maximum erosion depth, which was higher in warfarin treated rats, suggesting a higher osteoclastic activity. Therefore, warfarin treatment was also associated with higher bone formation rate/bone surface and activation frequency. Warfarin treatment may cause an increased bone turnover characterized by increased remodelling cycles, with stronger osteoclast activity compared to the other groups. There were no differences among experimental groups in calcium deposition either in aortic or iliac arteries. Conclusions These findings suggest for the first time that dabigatran has a better bone safety profile than warfarin, as warfarin treatment affects bone by reducing trabecular size and structure, increasing turnover and reducing mineralization. These differences could potentially result in a lower incidence of fractures in dabigatran treated patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA115
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 4 2015


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