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Bone. 1999 Aug;25(2):183-90.

Cortical tibial bone volume in two strains of mice: effects of sciatic neurectomy and genetic regulation of bone response to mechanical loading.

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  • 1Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA 92357, USA.


Although C3H/HeJ (C3H) and C57BL/6J (B6) mice are similar in body size (and adult weight), and have bones of similar external size, C3H mice have higher peak bone densities than B6 mice (e.g., 53% higher peak bone density in the femora). The current studies were intended to assess the role of mechanical loading/unloading as a possible determinant of the bone density difference between these inbred strains of mice and, specifically, to assess the effect of sciatic neurectomy on histomorphometric indices of bone formation and resorption in the tibiae of female C3H and B6 mice. Groups of 10 mice of each strain were subjected to left-side sciatic neurectomy (left hindlimb immobilization) or a sham procedure. The contralateral (right) legs of each mouse were used as controls. Four weeks of immobilization produced no systemic changes in bone formation indices in either strain of mice (i.e., no change in serum alkaline phosphatase or serum osteocalcin). However, histomorphometric assessments at the tibiofibular junction showed that 4 weeks of immobilization caused a time-dependent decrease in the length of the endosteal bone forming perimeter (e.g., 14% of control single-labeled, noneroded surface at 4 weeks, p < 0.005) with a concomitant increase in the length of the endosteal bone resorbing perimeter (i.e., 424% of control eroded surface at 4 weeks, p < 0.005), in the B6 mice. These effects were associated with an increase in medullary area (132% of control, p < 0.05) at this site, in the B6 mice. The pattern of response was different in the tibiae of the C3 mice-a much smaller decrease in bone forming perimeter (88% of control at 4 weeks, p < 0.05), with no associated increase in bone resorbing perimeter, and no change in medullary area. Similar effects were seen at a second cross-sectional sampling site, in the proximal tibia. Together, these findings indicate that B6 mice are more sensitive to endosteal bone loss from hindlimb immobilization than C3H mice.

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