To investigate the possibility of mitochondria-dependent apoptosis as a mechanism of early steroid-induced avascular necrosis of femoral head (SANFH) in rats and vitamin E as a possible prevention strategy.
Seventy-two male Sprague Dawley rats were randomly divided into control group, model group, and intervention group, with 24 rats in each group. The rats in control group were not treated as normal control. The rats in model group and intervention group were established early SANFH models by lipopolysaccharide combined with methylprednisolone injection. At the same time, the rats in intervention group were injected with vitamin E (40 mg/kg) every day for 7 days. At 2, 4, and 8 weeks after the final injection, the bilateral femoral heads were harvested and observed by HE staining, TUNEL assay, immunohistochemical staining, and Western blot. The rate of empty lacunae, apoptotic index, and the expressions of Caspase-9, Caspase-3, and cytochrome-c (Cyt-c) proteins were calculated.
According to histological staining, there were significant differences in the rate of empty lacunae between intervention group and control group at 8 weeks ( P<0.05) and between intervention group and model group at 4 and 8 weeks ( P<0.05). The apoptotic index of intervention group was significantly lower than that of model group at each time point ( P<0.05). And there was significant difference between the intervention group and the control group at 8 weeks ( P<0.05). According to immunohistochemistry staining and Western blot, the expressions of Cyt-c, Caspase-9, and Caspase-3 all significantly decreased in intervention group than those in model group at each time point ( P<0.05); and the differences were significant between intervention group and control group at 8 weeks ( P<0.05).
Vitamin E can delay the progression of early SANFH by reducing mitochondrial dependent osteocyte apoptosis.