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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 819520, 10 pages
Research Article

The Effects of Elk Velvet Antler Dietary Supplementation on Physical Growth and Bone Development in Growing Rats

1Key Laboratory of New Animal Drug Project, Gansu Province, Key Laboratory of Veterinary Pharmaceutics Discovery, Ministry of Agriculture and Lanzhou Institute of Animal Science and Veterinary Pharmaceutics, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou 730050, China
2Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B4
3College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, 87 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5B2

Received 16 April 2015; Revised 16 June 2015; Accepted 18 June 2015

Academic Editor: Alvin J. Beitz

Copyright © 2015 Jiongran Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Elk velvet antler (EVA) has been used in traditional Oriental medicine for centuries to promote general health; however, little evidence for its effect on bone development is available. We investigated the effects of lifelong exposure of Wistar rats to a diet containing 10% EVA on physical growth and bone development. Measurements included weekly body weights, blood chemistry and kidney and testis/ovary indices (sacrificed at 5, 9, or 16 weeks of age), and bone traits of the femur bones by peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Mean body weights were higher in the EVA group at 4–8 weeks in males and at 5 weeks of age in females. The kidney indices were greater in EVA dietary supplemented male rats at 5 and 16 weeks of age, in females at 16 weeks of age, and testis/ovary indices at 5 weeks of age. The femoral length was increased in both males and females at 5 weeks, and several pQCT-measured parameters had increased in EVA males and females. The activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) increased in EVA group while the content of calcium and phosphorus did not differ among groups. Our results seem to support a role for dietary supplementation of EVA on growth and bone development in this model.