Loading increases bone mass and strength in a site-specific manner; however, possible effects of loading on bone matrix composition have not been evaluated. Site-specific structural and material properties of mouse bone were analyzed on the macro- and micro/molecular scale in the presence and absence of axial loading. The response of bone to load is heterogeneous, adapting at molecular, micro-, and macro-levels.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease resulting in reduced bone mineral density, structure, and strength. The overall aim was to explore the hypothesis that changes in loading environment result in site-specific adaptations at molecular/micro- and macro-scale in mouse bone.
Right tibiae of adult mice were subjected to well-defined cyclic axial loading for 2 weeks; left tibiae were used as physiologically loaded controls. The bones were analyzed with μCT (structure), reference point indentation (material properties), Raman spectroscopy (chemical), and small-angle X-ray scattering (mineral crystallization and structure).
The cranial and caudal sites of tibiae are structurally and biochemically different within control bones. In response to loading, cranial and caudal sites increase in cortical thickness with reduced mineralization (-14 and -3%, p < 0.01, respectively) and crystallinity (-1.4 and -0.3%, p < 0.05, respectively). Along the length of the loaded bones, collagen content becomes more heterogeneous on the caudal site and the mineral/collagen increases distally at both sites.
Bone structure and composition are heterogeneous, finely tuned, adaptive, and site-specifically responsive at the micro-scale to maintain optimal function. Manipulation of this heterogeneity may affect bone strength, relative to specific applied loads.
Osteoporos Int. 2017 Mar;28(3):1121-1131. doi: 10.1007/s00198-016-3846-6. Epub 2016 Dec 5.