The effects of a short course of a COX-2 inhibitor on bone healing when the drug is discontinued are unknown. We examined the effects of rofecoxib on bone ingrowth over a 6-week period using a well-defined animal model. The Bone Harvest Chamber was implanted bilaterally in mature rabbits. After osseointegration of the chamber, the following treatments were given for 6 weeks each, followed by a harvest in each case: control-no drug; oral rofecoxib (12.5 mg/day) for the first 2 of 6 weeks; washout period-no drug; oral rofecoxib for the last 2 of 6 weeks; washout period-no drug; rofecoxib given continuously for all 6 weeks. Harvested specimens were snap-frozen, cut into serial 6-microm sections, and stained with hematoxylin and eosin and alkaline phosphatase (osteoblast marker), and processed using immunohistochemistry to identify the vitronectin receptor (osteoclast-like cells). Rofecoxib given continuously for 6 weeks yielded statistically less bone ingrowth compared to the control treatment. Rofecoxib given during the initial or final 2 weeks of a 6-week treatment did not appear to interfere with bone ingrowth. This suggests that the effects of COX-2 inhibitors on bone are less profound when the drug is administered for a short period of time.
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