Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Seth W Donahue


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive disease affecting skeletal and cardiac muscle, as well as bone. Long term disuse and glucocorticoid treatments cause progressive osteoporosis in DMD patients, leading to an increase in fracture incidence. Treatments for osteoporosis in these patients have not been widely explored. Parathyroid hormone (PTH), an anabolic treatment for post-menopausal osteoporosis, could benefit DMD patients by improving skeletal properties and reducing fracture risk. Other PTH analogues are not currently FDA approved to treat osteoporosis, but may have improved osteogenic effects compared to the human analogue. Black bear PTH is especially promising as an osteoporosis treatment for the DMD population. Black bears are unique models of bone maintenance during disuse, since during six months of inactivity (hibernation), they maintain skeletal properties, unlike other hibernators. Additionally, black bear PTH has been correlated to bone formation markers during hibernation, indicating it may be, at least in part, the mechanism by which bears maintain bone during disuse. Employing black bear PTH as a treatment for osteoporosis in DMD patients could greatly improve quality of life for these individuals, and reduce the pain and expense associated with frequent fractures.