Joseph A Spadaro, PhD

Joseph A Spadaro, PhD
Appointed 06/28/12
3119 Institute For Human Performance (IHP)
505 Irving Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13210

315 464-5540

Hospital Campus

Education & Fellowships

  • PhD: Syracuse University, 1969, Physics/Biophysics
  • MS: Syracuse University, 1965, Physics
  • BS: Fordham University, 1963, Physics

Previous Appointments

  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Syracuse, NY, 1965–1981

Research Interests

  • Electromagnetic and mechanical regulation of bone physiology;
    Bone density and osteoporosis;
    Skeletal irradiation effects;

Diseases & Conditions Treated

  • Osteoporosis


  • Bone Density Testing


  • American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), Member


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  Research Interests

Electromagnetic and mechanical modulation of bone remodeling and bone cell biology.

   This work aims at understanding the regulatory mechanisms though which physical forces influence adaptation, remodeling, and repair in the skeleton with an eye toward new clinical applications.  In vivo models are used with supporting information from bone cells in culture. Mechanical effects (e.g., implant motion, dynamic loading, vibration or ultrasonic energy) are thought to be mediated by the cytoskeleton, membrane receptors or inflammatory mechanisms in osteoblasts and ostecytes.  Externally applied, specific electromagnetic fields induce currents that similarly seem to affect some regulatory pathways in bone cells, most likely mediated by changes in intracellular calcium ion fluxes.  In vivo experiments show 20-30% increased calcium uptake in a calvarial bone in rats briefly exposed to a weak, pulsed magnetic field (PEMF).  In vitro studies with an osteoblast cell line suggest that a brief PEMF exposure results in cell cycle shifts toward a more differentiated phenotype.  We are currently examining bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cell differentiation as a prime target of the electromagnetic interactions.

Disuse osteopenia and the changes in bone density and structure following injury and altered skeletal loading.

   Both intact and fractured bones tend to rapidly lose substance when loading is reduced in a cast or brace. 10-20% reduction in bone density may occur after 1-2 months in the forearm, and 20-40% in the tibia or adjacent to an implanted prosthesis.   We have also found that density reductions are also associated with stress fractures and shin splints. Bone densitometry (DEXA), computed tomography (QCT) and structural analysis are our chief tools to study these phenomena, but biochemical markers of bone remodeling, such as collagen N-telopeptides, can also be measured. Variations in loss among individuals, however, are large and mostly unexplained.   We recently concluded a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of PEMF to see if it would prevent this type of bone loss.   New studies will examine factors influencing disuse bone loss, such as injury type, aging, osteoporosis, diabetes, spaceflight and anti-resorptive treatments. 

Ionizing radiation effects on bone and bone growth (with T.A. Damron, M.D.)

   In cancer patients exposed to therapeutic levels of radiation, growing bone can become stunted and deformed, while adult bone can fracture easily and is difficult to heal.  The biological mechanisms of these dramatic effects have not been extensively studied.  Using rodent models, supported by cell studies, we are seeking novel radioprotective strategies as well as methods of enhancing bone recovery.  Our work on growth plate irradiation has advanced the field.

Recent Representative Publications

1.     Spadaro JA, Short WH, Sheehe PR, Hickman, RM, Feiglin, DH; Electromagnetic Effects on Forearm Disuse Osteopenia: A Randomized, Double-blind, Sham-controlled Study.  Bioelectromagnetics, 2010 (in press).

2.     Damron TA,  Zhang M,  Pritchard MR, Middleton FA.  Horton JA.  Margulies BM.  Strauss JA.  Farnum CE.  Spadaro JA.   Microarray cluster analysis of irradiated growth plate zones following laser microdissection,  Int. J. of Rad. Oncol., Biol., Phys.  74(3):949-56, 2009.

3.     Dowthwaite JN, Kanaley JA, Spadaro JA, Hickman RM, Scerpella TA.   Muscle indices do not fully account for enhanced  upper extremity bone mass and strength in gymnasts. J Musculoskeletal Neuronal Interact. 9(1): 2-14, 2009.

4.     Khosla M, Spadaro JA, Mumm S, Moses AM: Markedly elevated bone density in a man with longstanding hyperparayhyroidism. EndoTrends 15: 1-3, 2008.

5.     Dowthwaite JN, Flowers PP, Spadaro JA, Scerpella TA; Bone geometry, density and strength indices of the distal radius reflect loading via childhood gymnastic activity.  J. Clin. Densitometry 10(1): 65-75, 2007.

6.     Spadaro JA, Damron TA, Horton JA, Margulies BS, Murray GM, Clemente DA, Strauss JA; Density and structural changes in the bone of growing rats after weekly alendronate administration with and without a methotrexate challenge, J. Orthop. Res. 24:936-934, 2006.

7.     Damron TA, Spadaro JA, Horton JA, Margulies BS, Strauss J, Farnum CE;  Novel radioprotectant drugs for sparing radiation-induced damage to the physis.  Int. J. Rad. Biol., 80:217-228, 2004. 

8.     Spadaro JA, Short WH: (Book Chapter) Post Fracture Osteopenia and its Etiology; in Orthopaedic Issues in Osteoporosis, Edited by YH An, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2002.

9.     Spadaro JA, Bergstrom WH: In vivo and in vitro effects of a pulsed electromagnetic field on net calcium flux in rat calvarial bone.  Calcified. Tiss. Int. 70:496-502, 2002.  

Faculty Profile Shortcut: http://www.upstate.edu/faculty/spadaroj